casuario (Casuarius) It is between 1,5 and 2 meters tall and both sexes have a similar appearance. Adults are notable for their glossy black plumage and bright blue neck with red highlights. The female is larger than the male and is also the more aggressive of the two. They are also the heaviest bird in Australia.

The cassowary crest remains a mystery today.
The cassowary crest remains a mystery today.

Features

The cassowary is a member of a group of large birds flightless calls ratids. There are three species that can be found in New Guinea and in northeastern Australia. It lives in tropical rainforests, dense lowland forests, and highlands. Due to life in deep forests, this bird is rarely seen in the wild.

The main threat to their survival is deforestation and the introduction of new species such as dogs, foxes and cats (which feed on their eggs). It is classified as a vulnerable species, which means that it may become endangered in the near future.

Habitat

They live mainly in the lowland tropical rain forest, but they also use other types of forest such as eucalyptus, mangroves, and tea trees. They are also seen on the beaches adjacent to these habitats. Like most animals, they need access to clean, fresh water to drink… Cassowaries can also venture into the suburbs and farmland if they are close to their territories or in times of food shortage, such as after cyclones, when the wind and rain have destroyed the trees and fruits of the rainforest.

Each adult maintains a range or territory of approximately 100Ha. The ranges of males may overlap with each other and with those of females. Loss of habitat due to agriculture and residential development in North Queensland is affecting the number of cassowaries the environment can support. The loss of good quality habitat (degradation) and the purchase of small plots of land for housing (fragmentation) is also affecting these birds. Birds living in areas of degraded or fragmented, low-quality habitat need larger ranges, and therefore the environment cannot support as many birds.

The cassowary is regarded as the gardener of the rainforest, as it is a "keystone species" that maintains the balance and diversity of its rainforest home through its role as a seed disperser. The main food is the fruits of the rain forest, and the gentle treatment of the fruits through the primitive digestive system leaves the seeds unharmed and ready for germination in their own "compost heap" of manure.

Food

The cassowary eats jungle fruits, sprouts, and other vegetables. Their way of feeding is to throw food into the air and swallow it in one gulp. Many rainforest trees depend on this bird to eat and disperse its seeds, many of which will only germinate after they have passed through the cassowary gut.

It can also feed on small insects to get the necessary nutrients, as well as spiders, small invertebrates and although in stranger situations, they can also feed on small lizards. What makes an animal omnivore.

The cassowary is a land bird
The cassowary is a land bird.

Predators

Its predators are mainly crocodiles, wild dogs and dingoes. Although if they are accompanied they usually defend themselves in a group.

Reproduction

They do not mate for life or form permanent bonds. The female can mate with several males in a single breeding season, thus producing several nests. The male incubates all three or four eggs, which are light green and rough on the outside. The nest is made up of sticks, leaves and other forest debris. The breeding season is usually limited to the months of June and October. Once the eggs are laid, it is up to the male to incubate the eggs for 2 months and then raise the chicks for another 9 months.

State of conservation

Latest estimates suggest that the total Australian cassowary population is between 1.200 and 1.500 adults. Some of the many problems facing cassowaries are loss of habitat from clearing for residential settlements and agricultural expansion. Fragmented habitat (especially roads and subdivisions). Vehicle traffic (fatal road accidents are the leading cause of death among adults) Dogs (especially aggressive to chickens and juveniles), wild boars (impact on cassowary habitat).

Curiosities

We will name some curiosities that are worth mentioning about this great and curious animal. All birds are living dinosaurs, but the dagger-clawed cassowary looks especially good. Here are all the fun facts you need to know about these majestic and terrifying birds.

It is the second largest bird on the planet

Scientists currently recognize three live cassowary species, all restricted to New Guinea, northeastern Australia, and nearby islands. Among them, the dwarf is the smallest. Then there is the northern cassowary, an orange-throated giant that can grow up to 1,5 meters tall. But the southern cassowary is bigger: From toe to crest of head, this bird can be 1,7 meters tall. The only two birds that surpass him are the ostrich and the emú. However, southern cassowaries exceed the latter in weight; adults can often weigh up to 56 kilos. Behind the ostrich, they are the second heaviest bird on the planet.

They have dangerous legs

In certain parts of its Australian range, you may come across warning signs. Typically, the cassowary is a shy and lonely animal, but when threatened or cornered, they can become aggressive, counterattacking with powerful head butting and pecking. The most dangerous weapon in their arsenal is a razor-sharp claw on the inside of the foot of each foot, which, in southern cassowaries, grows to be 12 centimeters long. The birds give a series of downward kicks with their hind legs that are known to break bones and cause serious lacerations. With a good blow, the claws can open a human's belly or throat.

The dangerous legs of the cassowary
The dangerous legs of the cassowary

They are surprisingly good bouncers.

What could be scarier than a modern 56-kilogram dinosaur with killer claws? One that can jump 1,5 meters off the ground. To get the most out of those toe daggers, cassowaries will sometimes jump from head to toe towards an attacker, claws slashing down in midair. They reach great speeds, with a maximum speed of 54 km per hour.

They have a hidden nail in each wing

The cassowary is very similar to the ostrich, emu, and Kiwi. Like their better known cousins, hulled birds have useless vestigial wings. At the tip of each is a small claw that is probably useless.

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