Southern Cassowary is considered as the planet’s most dangerous bird. They are thought to be the closest living descendants of the dinosaurs because of their physical appearance, that includes fierce claws and casques(a structure resembling a helmet on their head).
Cassowaries are mainly found in the rainforests of Australia, islands of New Guinea as well as in some of the Indonesian islands.The Southern Cassowaries are also found in lowland forests, savannas, forest edges and riverbanks, and even mangroves and fruit plantations.
The Southern Cassowary is one of the three species of the Cassowaries. The others are Northern Cassowary and Dwarf Cassowary. The Southern Cassowary is scientifically called Casuarius casuarius.
Scientific Classification :
Species: Casuarius casuarius
The Southern Cassowary are large, flightless birds. These birds have a bright blue and red coloured skin. Their body consists of black coloured feathery neck, body and a tail. They are called ‘ratites’ which are a group of flightless birds that are more adapted to walking fast and running. They somewhat resemble ostriches and are closely related to emus.The Southern Cassowaries have two wattles, a colourful piece of red skin below the chin on the front of the neck sagging down with a jiggly appearance . Due to this it can also be called the double-wattled or two-wattled cassowary.
Cassowaries are considered one of the largest birds walking this planet. The Southern Cassowary is about 5.8 feet that is about 170 centimeters. The Cassowary males weigh about 55 kilograms( 121 pounds) and females weigh approximately 76 kilograms(167 pounds).
Amazing Facts about the Cassowaries-
- The Southern Cassowary produces the lowest frequency sounds that are not audible to human ears. Low frequency sound travels far distances, generally helping them for mating purposes.
- They can swallow large foods by opening their mouths wide.
- Cassowaries have thick, large and powerful toes. Three toes are present in each foot with a five inch long claw.
- These birds are omnivores. They swallow fruits and seeds of a large variety of plants. For their protein requirement, they feed on small mammals and reptiles, irrespective of the fact whether they are alive or dead.
- The Southern Cassowaries have gental digestive system. The birds leave a huge pile of ‘colourful dung’ with the seeds of the fruits they swallow. They excrete the seeds of plants, thus helping the plants with dispersal.
- These birds are good at swimming and can be often found near streams where they are drinking, sitting or bathing.
- Southern Cassowary lays three to five green coloured eggs. The eggs are reared by the males and chicks are protected for about nine months.
- The Cassowaries are shy and have a solitary existence.
- Female Cassowaries are dominant to male Cassowaries.
Present Condition of Southern Cassowaries-
As per the Australian federal law, Southern Cassowaries are considered as endangered species. In consequence to the increasing deforestation and development in Australia, the existence of this bird seems like a threat. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Cassowaries as Vulnerable. In a study conducted in the year 2002, the estimated number of the left Cassowaries were somewhere between 1500 to 2500 in Australia.