|Southern Cassowary Casuarius casuarius
November / December 2010
The Southern Cassowary is distributed in New Guinea and the eastern part of the York Peninsula. There is a distribution map at Birdlife International who classify the species as Vulnerable because of the recent rapid decline in population, particularly in Australia, caused by the destruction of its habitat. It is also susceptible to being killed by vehicles on the roads. The female known as "Etty" shown here in photos 5 and 7 was killed a few months after these photos were taken.
It is a large and powerful flightless bird with black feathers and bare, brightly coloured skin on the head and neck. The crown has a casque which is compressed laterally and sometimes curved to one side. It has two fleshy wattles hanging from the front of the neck which vary in length from one individual to another.
|It is a solitary bird with males and females only meeting up for mating. Like all ratites such as the Rhea, Emu and Ostrich, the male incubates and looks after the young while the female goes off to remate when incubation starts. Photos 1 to 3 show the male that we saw frequently at Cassowary House, Kuranda.|
|The half-grown chicks in photos 4 and 5 already show the start of the casque and the wattles. There were three
chicks in this particular family.
They feed on fruit which they pick up from the ground and swallow whole even when they are as large as a banana.
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