Birdlife - Cassowary

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Cassowary

  • SUMMARY

The Southern Cassowary is the largest land creature in Australia and the second heaviest extant bird in the world after the ostrich. It is third tallest after the ostrich and emu. Cassowaries are very large flightless birds native to the tropical forests of northeastern Australia.Their diet consists primarily of fallen fruit and fruit on low branches, however they also eat fungi, snails, insects, frogs, snakes and other small animals. They are a keystone species of rain forests. Adult Southern Cassowaries are 1.5 to 1.8m tall, although some females may reach 2 m (6 feet 8 inches), and weigh about 70 kilograms. The females are also more brightly coloured. A cassowary's three-toed feet have sharp claws; the dagger-like middle claw is 120mm long. They can run up to 50 km/h (32 mph) through the dense forest and can jump up to 1.5 m while also being good swimmers. Females lay three to eight large, pale green-blue eggs in each clutch. These eggs measure about 9 by 14cm — only ostrich and emu eggs are larger. The female does not care for the eggs or the chicks; the male incubates the eggs for two months, then cares for the brown-striped chicks for nine months, defending them fiercely against all potential predators, including humans.