Southern Cassowary Introduction
The Southern cassowary is one of three extant cassowary species,
distinct in that it lives on the southern side of New Guinea and in
areas of northern Australia. Cassowaries are large, flightless birds,
similar in certain respects to emus and ostriches. In fact, cassowaries
are closely related to kiwis. Compared to a kiwi, however, the
Southern cassowary is much more in touch with its dinosaur
ancestors. There are several unique visual characteristics which make
the cassaway easy to identify. First, their bodies are covered by
coarse black feathers; these feathers conceal small, vestigial wings.
Second, the head and neck are unfeathered, displaying bright blue
skin. Third, two bright red flaps of skin called wattles hang down from
the neck. Fourth, a bulging casque made of bone and cartilage rises
from the top of the head like a hat. Each of these physical
characteristics are unique to the cassowary, giving it a particularly
striking appearance. At up to 190 cm tall, cassowaries are the largest
Asian bird, and this size can be quite intimidating. In fact, cassowaries
are known as the most dangerous birds in the world. Their size,
combined with their sharp beaks, sharper claws, and strong legs
makes them formidable when provoked—capable of killing humans
who threaten them. Cassowaries spend their time foraging on the
forest floor, eating fallen fruit, fungi, and insects. They are solitary
animals, and they only come together during breeding season.
Interestingly, females are larger and dominant. Males build nests on
the ground out of plant matter, elevated to allow for rain to drain
away. After the female lays a clutch of eggs, the male takes over and
incubates them by himself. He then proceeds to raise them until they
are ready to live on their own. The powerful legs of a southern
cassowary allow for quick movement through the forest, which they
can do almost entirely silently. The casque on the top of a cassowary’s head is used to push plants out of its way. Although classified as least concern, southern cassowary populations are declining as humans have intruded on their habitat.
Keywords to learn
Extant: still surviving, having not died out
Vestigial: a small remnant of something that was once larger or more prominent and is no longer used
Hey Kids, my name is Casey the Southern Cassowary I am very happy to meet you. Learn more about me and my species @
- Order: Casuariiformes.
- Lifespan: 20 to 40 years.
- Class: Aves.
- Scientific Name: Casuarius casuarius.
- Mass: 29kg – 59kg (64lb – 130lb).
- Length: 102cm – 170cm (40in – 67in).
- Region found: New Guinea, Northern Australia, surrounding islands.
- Population Status: Least concern.
- Current population trend: Decreasing.
- Diet: Herbivorous.
- Sexual maturity: 3 – 5 years.
As you have just learned, the Harpy eagle is an incredibly and intimidating creature with many wonderful characteristics and a great deal of interesting behaviors. Known for its remarkable size and its hunting capability, the Harpy eagle is threatened by human encroachment on its habitat.
Now that you know more about the Harpy eagle by learning the key data above, be sure also to check out the fun facts. When you are finished learning the facts, try answering the questions in the Q&A corner on the bottom right side of the page.
Download questions about the Harpy eagle here: Harpy Eagle (answers are on this page)
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Harpy eagle Fun Facts for Kids
- # 1. Harpy eagles talons can grow up to five inches long.
- # 2. Their nests are known for being incredibly difficult to find.
- # 3. Female Harpy eagles can weigh up to twice as much as their male counterparts.
- # 4. Harpy eagles can perch for up to 23 hours while hunting for prey.
- # 5. The name of the Harpy eagle comes from the harpies of Greek and Roman mythology.
# 1. Name three animals that the Harpy eagle preys upon?
# 2. What is the average lifespan of a Harpy eagle?
# 3. Where do Harpy eagles get their name?
# 4. What is one threat to Harpy eagle populations?
# 5. What rainforest layer do Harpy eagles live in?