A Bird with a Kick! – Southern Cassowary

This is a bird you don’t want to mess with and serves as a reminder that dinosaurs are still living among us as birds. The Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) is a large ratite, or flightless bird, related to the ostrich, emu, and rhea. It can weigh up to 150 pounds and reach a height of 5.9 feet! Not only that, but it is not a gentle bird and has been known to injure or even kill humans who threaten it. The claws on its inner toes are specifically designed for fighting and can easily rip a person wide open. Their kick alone can break bones and cause other internal damage.

The cassowary also possesses a hard, helmet like crest on its head and is capable of headbutting as well. It can run very fast and will charge anything it feels is a threat. This is not without reason, though. In some areas, cassowaries have become accustomed to being fed and are no longer afraid of humans, making them even more aggressive than normal. A cassowary will also attack to defend its chicks or its territory.
So where do these big, scary birds live and what do they look like? Well, if you want to, you can find them in the tropical rainforests of northeast Australia, Indonesia, and New Guinea. Their feathers are black, bristly, and fur-like. They have no feathers on their upper neck or head and the skin there is bright blue with red wattles like a turkey. You’ve already seen what their claws look like! If you weren’t convinced that birds evolved from dinosaurs before, maybe you are after seeing that foot.

Here’s a picture of the whole bird where you can actually see all these details together in better quality than that attack picture up there:

Interestingly, the male is the one who takes on all of the egg and chick rearing duties with no help from the female. Cassowaries are solitary and they only pair up during breeding season in late winter to early spring. The male will build the nest, incubate the eggs, and look after the chicks all by himself. The female just leaves after laying her eggs. What a fantastic dad! Wouldn’t it be nice if human males were this responsible and helpful? Just kidding, just kidding!

The eggs are very large and quite beautiful:

People will sometimes collect them to make art and it’s easy to see why!

So the southern cassowary has a reputation for being the most dangerous bird in the world, but if you give it some space just as with any other animal, it will give you yours. Most attacks only occur when the bird feels like it is in danger, defending its young, or when it is being physically attacked by a human. It’s not the cassowary’s fault if it’s trying to defend itself and its home. We should know better than to hurt or mess with such a powerful animal. Maybe if more people would grow to appreciate what fascinating animals cassowaries are, they will come to treat it with more caution and respect.

1.”Wildlife Queensland – Southern Cassowary.” Wildlife Queensland. Wildlife Queensland, July 2010. Web. 02 May 2015. .

2.”Cassowary Attacks.” Amazing Australia. Amazing Australia, n.d. Web. 02 May 2015. .

3.Judson, Olivia. “Cassowaries.” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, July 2012. Web. 02 May 2015. .

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