Wildlife Wednesday - Cassowaries

Today we're talking about cassowaries! The cassowary was one of  last week's #dailyzoodle prompts and I realized a lot of people didn't know much about them. That means a perfect animal for Wildlife Wednesday!
The cassowary is one of my most favorite birds. Ready to learn some interesting facts about them?
Cassowary by DrawPerfect, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License
  by  DrawPerfect 
Cassowaries are a large flightless bird.
There are 3 types of cassowary: Double-wattled Cassowary (Southern Cassowary), the Dwarf Cassowary, and the Single-wattled Cassowary (Northern Cassowary)
They can be found in the rain forests of Papua New Guinea and North Eastern Australia.

The Double-wattled Cassowary is the species people are usually most familiar with.

Paradisio-155934 by Raphael Quinet, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Raphael Quinet 

Cassowaries belong to group known as Ratites. This group is made up of ostriches, emus, and rheas all of which are large flightless birds.

The cassowary is most closely related to the emu.

The cassowary is the 2nd heaviest bird in the world. The ostrich is the heaviest bird.

The cassowary is the 3rd tallest bird in the world.

Australia-attento a te by Flavia Brandi, on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Flavia Brandi 

Cassowary feathers aren't designed for flight, but they help protect them from the elements and sharp thorns in the rain forest.
Cassowaries have tiny wings, with bare quills.
cassowary face
Cassowaries can't fly, but they can run really fast! Up to 30 mph through the jungle.
Cassowaries are  also excellent swimmers

Cassowaries can jump almost 7 ft straight up!

Cassowary by pbkwee, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  pbkwee 
Cassowaries are solitary. They are hard to study in the wild so we don't know much about their natural behaviors.

Cassowaries mainly eat fruit. They also eat grasses, seeds, leaves and bugs.

In the past cassowaries had no predators in their natural environment. Humans have brought not only deforestation to their habitats, but also cats and dogs, which eat their eggs and destroy their nests.

2008-08-14-15h00m35.IMG_0252le by A.J. Haverkamp, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  A.J. Haverkamp 
Cassowaries lay up to 8 eggs at a time. The males incubate the eggs and care for the chicks when they hatch.
Baby cassowaries are brown and have stripes.

Cassowaries make a loud booming sound. It is the lowest known call of any bird and is right at edge the of our hearing. It can be heard from up to 3 miles away.

cassowary casque
Cassowary comes for the Papuan words for "horned head".

All 3 species of cassowary have a helmet, or casque on the top of their head. The casque starts to form at age 2. It is made of a sponge like material that is covered with a thick layer of keratin (the substance that makes up your fingernails).

No one knows exactly what the purpose of the casque is. It constantly grows, so it might be a way to show age or dominance. It might be because it helps them get through the rain forest vegetation. It may help them communicate, much like the hornbill’s casque does. It also might be for defense.

Cassowary by chimothy27, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  chimothy27 
Cassowaries are often called the most dangerous birds in the world. They have a dagger like claw on their inner toe. With a quick kick, they can slice open a predator.
Cassowaries also use their claws to search for fallen fruit on the forest floor.

Cassowary wattles can be blue, red, gold, purple or white depending on the subspecies. The dwarf cassowary is the only species that doesn't have a wattle.

Cassowaries are very important to the rain forests for dispersing seeds through their droppings.

What do you think of cassowaries?
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