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My notes read: “liquid amber eyes.” It’s the first thing I notice, standing face to beak with an emu, as it approaches to look me over.


Neat biological things I note too, in my sketchbook– things that make this specifically an emu and not another large, flightless, “Struthioniform” ratite: three toes… shaggy almost hairy looking feathers…

Blue skin… BLUE SKIN. Not colorful feathers, but beautifully bright sky-blue skin on its neck.

Its nest is full of  huge, deepest-teal green eggs.

“Deep rumbling clucks,” I write. I now know what a dinosaur might have sounded like. Responding on an instinctual level (is that the pit of my stomach?) and also in my brain, I consider the amazing, far-flung ratite family. Trails of DNA are separated by drifting continents and oh-so-many years. Ostriches in Africa,  rhea in South America– puzzled over by Darwin; emu in Australia.

Hello, Emu! I am glad to know you.

–Meeting emus, salamanders, jellyfish, and more: I invite your comments on my article

Illustrating Science: When Art and Science Collide