The southern cassowary is a giant flightless bird that is closely related to emu. The large species of flightless birds are found in the forests of Papua New Guinea and its surrounding islands. The cassowary species is the third tallest and second heaviest bird after emu and ostrich. The name cassowary is derived from a Papuan word that means horned head, referred to as the helmet located at the top of its head made of tough skin. The helmet also represents the dominance and age of the bird. The males and females of these species look similar but vary in weight as females are larger and heavier than males. Let’s learn more about the southern cassowary bird and know some interesting facts about these species.
What Does a Cassowary Look Like?
The unique feature of the cassowary bird is its distinctive large body with bright and colorful feathers. The flightless bird looks like a massive prehistoric turkey on stilts, having a large and pointed casque. Have you ever wondered what do cassowaries use their casque for? These flightless birds have casques that slope backward, which they use to push through vegetation while running through the rainforest. The baby cassowary has striped cream and black color, which fades to brown after about five months. However, the adult’s color and casque start to develop after two to four years of age.
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Where Do Cassowary Live?
The southern cassowary survives in the dense tropical forests of New Guinea and its surrounding islands. And some parts of north-eastern Australia. However, other species, such as the Dwarf cassowary, can be found in New Guinea, New Britain, and Yapen. Simultaneously, the northern cassowary is seen in the north and western New Guinea and Yapen. The preferred cassowary habitat is the rainforest, but they can also survive nearby the mangroves, savannas, and fruit plantations.
What is the Size of a Southern Cassowary Bird?
The average height of southern cassowary species ranges between 1.5 m to 2 m., and the average weight of these species is between 55 to 129 pounds.
What Does Cassowaries Eat?
The cassowary birds are omnivorous and therefore munch on various plants and animals so that they can gain all the nutrients necessary for them to survive. However, the southern cassowary diet includes fruits that have fallen from the tree along with seeds, leaves, grasses, insects, spiders, and other invertebrates.
What is the Top Speed of Southern Cassowary Bird?
The cassowary is a flightless bird that cannot fly, but it can run faster and hasten from the forests at 30 miles per hour. Because of their excellent speed of running through the woods and having large and sharp claws, they defend themselves from the danger. This is also the answer if you wonder how do cassowaries protect themselves?
The female cassowary bird will mate with more than one male and will disappear soon after laying eggs. The courtship by the male cassowary includes a “boo-boo-boo” calling while inflating his throat. The mating season in New Guinea starts with the end of the dry season and lasts from June till October in Queensland. This flightless birds-built nest is shallow in the ground, lined with leaves and grasses, and much camouflaged with vegetation. During the breeding season, the female lays many clutches of 3 to 5 greenish eggs.
Southern Cassowary Interesting Facts:
- The booming sound of the southern cassowary is the lowest call of any bird. It is right at the border of human hearing.
- Some New Guinea residents believe that cassowaries as the rebirth of their female ancestors, and others thought that the bird was their first mother.
- In 1597, the first cassowary bird came to Europe for Emperor Rudolf II’s collection.
- During the breeding season, these flightless birds can become aggressive. The bird will first perform a threat display by arching its body upward and fluffing up its ramp feathers and then bending its neck with its pointed bill downwards, shaking its body and making a booming sound.
Southern Cassowary Behavior:
Southern cassowary species are flightless birds as they have small wings. But they have strong legs for mobility and defending themselves. Many of you might know that these birds can attack very well, thinking how do cassowaries attack? The southern cassowary is a dangerous bird as they attack with a rapid karate kick using their solid and powerful legs.
These are diurnal birds, resting during the middle of the day and foraging in the morning and late afternoon. Cassowaries are known to swim well and are good jumpers. These birds are shy and solitary but can be aggressive and can attack humans.
How Long Does Southern Cassowary live?
The average lifespan of these flightless birds is between 40 to 60 years.
Are Cassowaries Endangered?
Under the IUCN, the recorded population of Southern Cassowary species is between 10,000 to 20,000 individuals. However, these birds are under threat mainly because of deforestation and habitat loss.
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