As cute as a button and precious beyond words

BIRDS OF A FEATHER: A mum and her chicks were spotted recently.Photo: John Warrell
BIRDS OF A FEATHER: A mum and her chicks were spotted recently.Photo: John Warrell

THESE gorgeous little fuzzballs do not realise how precious they are.

The young coastal emu chicks were photographed last month by local man John Warrell on Diggers Camp Rd, as they foraged for food with their mum.

Lawrence Orel from the National Parks and Wildlife Services estimates there are less than 120 coastal emus in the Clarence Valley.

Mr Orel says sightings of the critically-endangered species are rare and he is encouraging locals who are lucky enough to spot them to report their whereabouts.

"It is really good to know members of the Clarence Valley community are seeing these birds and making others aware of their presence," he said.

"They are reporting where the birds are seen and where/if they are nesting.

"It is important NPWS are made aware of sightings in the area because the coastal emu population is quite low and it is important the species is pro- tected."

Isolated from its inland relatives, the coastal emu population has been declining steadily in recent years.

Collisions with vehicles remain the largest threat to the species with 67 road deaths reported in the past 12 years.

The NPWS has been enlisting the aid of volunteers to monitor coastal emu numbers in an annual survey run since 2000.

This year, more than 50 volunteers dedicated over 2800 hours of their time to help count the Valley's coastal emu population, with 109 birds counted.

Mr Orel is encouraging anyone who sees or photographs a coastal emu to phone local ranger Gina Hart on 6641 1500.

He is also encouraging motorists to be cautious when driving on rural roads.

"The coastal emus don't have much road sense," he said.

"They are usually sighted by the side of the road where green foliage can be found.

"NPWS is encouraging anyone who sees a coastal emu to report the sighting and help protect the species."

Topics:  emu

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