Cassowary, Southern (Double-Wattled)

Double Wattled Cassowary

Cassowary, Southern (Double-wattled)

Scientific Name: Casuarius casuarius

Status: Vulnerable

Habitat: Rainforests of Papua, New Guinea and northern Australia

Diet: Fruits and berries

Height: 5 feet

Wingspan: 3-5 quills in each vestigial wing

Weight: 128 pounds

Top Speed: 30 miles per hour

A flightless bird, the cassowary has only rudimentary wings consisting of three to five quills on both sides of its body. Both sexes have large helmet-like casques on their heads, which are believed to help the birds deflect obstructions as they run through dense forest undergrowth. Cassowaries have three clawed toes on each foot. The claw on the middle digit is especially large and sharp. The bird uses it as a weapon by leaping at adversaries feet-first.

In the wild, after the female lays her eggs, the male is left alone to incubate them for about 50 days. Within a few hours of hatching, the brown, striped chicks are able to follow their father to search for food. The male stays with the chicks for about nine months, teaching them to find food and protecting them from predators. It takes approximately three years for cassowaries reach their full adult size and plumage.

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