Cassowary Birds-The killer bird
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Cassowary Birds-The killer bird

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Description
    Like Emu, Kiwi bird or Ostrich, Cassowary is a bird from ratite family, a diverse group of large, flightless birds of the superorder Palaeognathae. 

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A bird that doesn’t fly, with a big helmet on its head that the bird uses to make its way though the luxuriant vegetation. Its name means “horned head”. These birds come from New Guinea and they are a lot like emus in size. The feathers are black and they also have a red and blue neck. They have a strong kick due to their long feet, but they only have 3 toes on each foot and dangerous claws.
    Cassowaries have a reputation in folklore for being dangerous to people and domestic animals.
Ornithologist Ernest Thomas Gilliard wrote:
    "The inner or second of the three toes is fitted with a long, straight, murderous nail which can sever an arm or eviscerate an abdomen with ease. There are many records of natives being killed by this bird."
    There are three species of Cassowary; two are confined to the rain forests of New Guinea and nearby islands. The third and largest—the southern cassowary—also lives in the Wet Tropics of northern Queensland, in the part of Australia that sticks up at New Guinea like a spike. Some live deep in tracts of rain forest, such as the Daintree; others live on the forest edge and may wander through people’s backyards.Among living birds, only ostriches are more massive than these birds.

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Their feathers are glossy black; their legs are scaly. Their feet have just three toes—and the inside toe of each foot has evolved into a formidable spike. Their wings are tiny, having shrunk almost to the point of nonexistence. But their necks are long, and bare of all but the lightest coating of short, hairlike feathers. Instead the skin is colored with amazing hues of reds and oranges, purples and blues.
    They are big, they have claws and a powerful kick, and they will use them. If cassowaries come to associate humans with food handouts, they can become aggressive and demanding. If you get close to a male with young chicks, he may charge you in an attempt to protect them. If you try to catch or kill a cassowary, it may fight back—and could well get the better of you. They sometimes kill dogs.
    The earliest known ratite fossils date to the Paleocene epoch about 56 million years ago and along with Kiwi, Ostrich, Emu, Cassowary, the “living fossil” Giant Moa bird – extinct, with a height of 3.7 meters (12 ft) and weighing about 230 kilograms (510 lb)- , Aepyornis (ratite birds endemic to Madagascar known as elephant birds also extinct ), they are the living link to their ancestors dinosaurs .

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When you look at one this closely you can see just how the birds are descended from the dinosaurs.


Habitat
    They live in tropical forests in Australia and New Guinea. There are other cassowary species, each of them living independently at different altitudes and avoiding encounters with the other species. The Northern Cassowary can be found in land forests, the Southern ones in the middle latitude and the dwarf cassowary usually lives in the mountain rainforest. The Southern cassowary is the biggest out of the other 3 species. 



Behavior and Reproduction
    The male birds are very territorial. Once a female approaches the area, they like to show off and display their plumage in order to court her. The reproduction seasons starts in May or June when the female bird lays up to 8 eggs. Once the eggs are laid, the female leaves, allowing the male to incubate the eggs. This incubation period lasts for 56 days. 



Diet
    These birds like fruits and plants. They have been spotted eating mangroves and all kinds of other species of plants. Snails, frogs and types of fungi are also on their diet list. These birds have no problem in swallowing a whole fruit either. Once they finish digesting the pulp of the fruit, they spread the remaining seeds all around the rainforest.

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In the course of a day a single adult cassowary eats hundreds of fruits and berries. Cassowary digestion is gentle, though, and does not harm the seeds, which emerge intact. And so, as a cassowary wanders through its territory, eating, drinking, bathing, and defecating, it moves seeds from one part of the forest to another—sometimes over distances of half a mile or more.



Extinction
    This bird is in danger of loosing its habitat due to deforestations measures and animals like dogs which can be a threat to young cassowaries. Also intense traffic and accidents can harm these birds, due to the areas which are slowly populated by people.  




Interesting Facts
•    Their head and neck color can change based on their mood
•    Their eyesight is the best and so is their hearing
•    The cassowary can be a dangerous bird, due to its powerful kick and deadly sharp claws
•    Female cassowaries are bigger than the males
•    These birds are excellent swimmers, especially long distance swimmers
•    The male raises the young ones and is in charge of incubating the eggs
•    Cassowaries are shy birds, but they get aggressive if they feel the chicks are in danger
•    They can grow to over 6,5 feet tall, weigh well over 100 pounds, and gallop around at speeds of over 30 miles per hour
•    If you try to catch or kill a cassowary, it may fight back—and could well get the better of you. They sometimes kill dogs.
•    The Ratite family is one of the oldest bird family, having roots from the ancient dinosaurs (Kiwi bird, Ostrich, Emu, Giant Moa - with a height of 3.7 meters (12 ft) and weighing about 230 kilograms, Aepyornis known as elephant birds)

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Sources
http://www.arkive.org/southern-cassowary/casuarius-casuarius/
http://www.softschools.com/facts/animals/cassowary_facts/306/
http://www.arf.net.au/content.php?pageid=1280380330
http://www.thewonderofbirds.com/cassowary/habits.htm
http://adlayasanimals.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/cassowary-drumming.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/9Cu8u.jpg
http://www.desktopwallpaperhd.net/cassowary-birds-animals-wallpaper-9873.html
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bf/Cassowary_head_frontal.jpg
http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/09/cassowaries/judson-text
https://www.flickr.com/photos/dimetrojohn/8069190402/in/photostream/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/veronika23/2108648712/in/photostream/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/kirstykomuso/5511479347/in/photostream/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/75905404@N00/6239021930/in/photostream/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/98155826@N08/9224336754/in/photostream/
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