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Facts About Cassowaries

Leena Palande
Cassowary, the bird which cannot fly, is mainly found in the Australian rainforests. Interesting cassowary facts for kids are presented in this article.
Cassowary is considered as one of the most dangerous birds in the world. Whenever it was kept in a zoo, it had attacked and injured its caretaker seriously. The bird is capable of delivering fatal blows.
This flightless bird is found in the rainforests of Australia and New Guinea. It is actually a shy bird and likes to lead a calm and quiet life. Only when irritated by human beings, it becomes furious. The dagger-like sharp claws can deliver a bone-breaking kick within a fraction of a second.

Interesting Cassowary Facts for Kids

Cassowary is a very large bird. It looks like an ostrich, and also somewhat like a turkey. It belongs to the genus Casuarius. It is found in the forests of northeastern Australia.
Only two birds, emu and ostrich are larger than the southern cassowary. It is the third largest and second heaviest bird on the earth.
Cassowaries are omnivores. They mainly eat fruits, shoots, grass seeds and fungi. But their diet also consists of small vertebrates and insects.
When disturbed, they fight with full strength and can inflict serious injuries to dogs and human beings.
The three existing species of cassowary are southern cassowary or double-wattled cassowary (Casuarius casuarius), northern cassowary or single-wattled cassowary (Casuarius unappendiculatus), and the dwarf cassowary or Bennett's cassowary (Casuarius bennetti).
The southern cassowaries are common in southern New Guinea, northeastern Australia, and the Aru Islands, in lowlands.
The northern cassowaries are present in the northern and western New Guinea and Yapen, in lowlands.
The dwarf variety is found in New Guinea, New Britain, and on Yapen mainly in highlands.
The bird prefers to live in deep forests, and is difficult to detect. The bright skin of the head and neck makes it a very special bird. The color may be more bright or less bright (faded). It may vary according to the type, age and sex. The red color of the wattle becomes paler or darker according to the mood of the bird!
Cassowaries can weigh around 70 kilo and they can be about 5-6 feet high. A whitish patch on his head can be easily noticed. The blue and purple colors from head to the neck make them look very attractive. The upper legs are blue and are covered with long black feathers. The lower legs are gray or greenish-gray.
The cassowary bird can be easily identified with the help of the bright color, sharp beak and the casque (soft and spongy crest that looks like a horn) on top of its heads.
They have powerful legs (stay away from them as they have powerful kicking claws). They can run with a speed of 50 km/ hour, they can jump up to 5 feet and they are expert swimmers.
Cassowary facts inform us that these birds have sharp vision and they can hear a very low voice. Their loud rowdy voice is audible even if you are 3 miles away from them.
The female lays about 3 to 8 pale greenish-blue eggs at a time. She is least bothered about her eggs and young chicks! The male constructs the nest. The female may lay eggs in the nests of several males!
The male hatches the eggs for around 50 days. He then looks after the brown-striped chicks for about one year. He teaches them how to catch preys like frogs, snakes, snails, worms, insects and small birds. The chicks gradually learn to eat fruits and other foods. They even eat dead rats.
These birds are referred to as 'gardeners of rainforests' as they eat the fruits and shed the seeds in other areas. While strolling in the forest, they deposit the entire seeds far from the mother tree when they shit. This promotes new growth in the rainforest.
Certain studies show that cassowaries are the only birds which promote propagation of certain trees (around 80) that produce toxic fruits. No other birds or animals can eat these fruits.
Since human beings are destroying their habitat, the number of incidents of cassowaries attacking humans is increasing every year. I hope those who enjoy reading animals and birds facts, like the above cassowary facts, also help to create awareness about protection of these species and the environment.