Esmerelda the emu escapes, again

Published 12:15 pm Wednesday, January 10, 2024

By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

CALERA– Calera’s resident emu and most recent celebrity, Esmerelda, escaped from her enclosure for the second time in as many months during the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 10.

This second flight of freedom from the ironically flightless bird occurred following what has been reported as a “domestic dispute” involving her sister.

While it is unclear exactly how long Esmerelda’s latest adventure lasted, the community is happy to know that Esmerelda has already been located and is safe and sound.

Prior to the bird’s return, the city of Calera posted a humorous media alert informing the community of Esmerelda’s escape.

“With all of the sad news and heavy burdens that people have in the world right now, we set out to create a fun and informative Facebook post to bring a smile to our citizens’ faces and hopefully take their mind off of all of the stressors in the world for just a minute,” said James Fuller, Calera’s IT director. “We had such an outpouring of people who were having a good time reading the comments and making their own jokes.”

Her owner, Sue Sanford, who has raised the nearly decade-old emu from a day-old fresh chick, confirmed on the same morning of the escape that Esmerelda returned safely to her home not long into the bird’s latest unscheduled migration.

“She actually came back to me just a little while ago, thank goodness,” Sanford said. “I guess she decided the outside world wasn’t as good after all.”

Sanford also confirmed that Esmerelda has now been imprisoned in her high-fenced area and is being separated from her sister and the horses until tensions have an opportunity to cool down.

The recently adventurous emu garnered a flock of local attention for her most previous escape on both social media and from a variety of news outlets in the days leading up to the New Year’s holiday.

That search for Esmerelda quickly transformed the Calera community into a congregation of avid birdwatchers as everyone joined together to locate their feathered fugitive.

“When she was out a few weeks ago, she was gone for a week,” Sanford said.

After leaving her enclosure and being chased away from the home by dogs, Esmerelda was spotted throughout Calera in areas like Lindley’s Towing on Highway 31, behind Calera High School and its surrounding neighborhoods, along State Route 25 and following a week of sightings, she was finally captured at one of the local lime plants in town.

The two events have resulted in Esmerelda becoming something of a local celebrity, with an image of an emu accompanying the city’s New Year’s social media posts and the “Whats Happening in Calera” Facebook page now hosting a banner of individuals chasing an emu down the highway.

Esmerelda’s two escapes come four years after her previous prison break which involved both Esmerelda and her sister Ursula.

That escape also lasted for roughly a week for Esmerelda but it took over two-and-a-half months to locate Ursula, who made it as far as Minooka Park before being captured, escaping again during her return and then being captured a second time a week later.

“They can be quite an adventure when neighboring dogs don’t stay out of your property,” Sanford said. “But, I love the crazy birds.”