The Southern Cassowary is a large flightless bird found in tropical rainforest of north east Queensland, Indonesia and southern New Guinea. It prefers elevations below about 1000m and is conspicuous by its blue neck and red wattles hanging down around the throat. It is also the third tallest and second heaviest bird on earth (smaller only than the ostrich and emu) at a maximum size estimated at 85kg and 190cm tall.
These large birds forage on the forest floor for fallen fruit and are able to safely digest some fruits that are toxic to other animals. They play an important role in seed dispersal in rainforest ecosystems. Their diet also includes fungi, insects and small vertebrates.
The Southern Cassowary belongs to a group of mostly large, flightless birds known as Ratites. This group includes the Kiwi, Emu and Ostrich. Some threats to its survival include habitat loss, motor vehicles, dog attacks and feral animals eating their eggs.
Conservation status: Endangered
April 21st, 2017
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