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Cassowary Spotting

Admire Australia’s own avian icon – The Cassowary

There is no mistaking the cassowary for any other bird. With glossy black plumage, a purple and blue neck and red wattles, its head crowned with a distinctive casque or helmet, this bird is a survivor. It is an evolutionary relic, having first appeared millions of years ago, and is believed by some to be the closest living relative to dinosaurs.

The cassowary is remarkable in a number of ways. For one thing, the males hatch the eggs and raise the chicks rather than the females. The cassowary also plays a key role in the survival of the rainforest. By eating rainforest fruits and excreting their seeds, it helps ensure diversity. More than 70 species of trees rely on the cassowary for survival.

Just 4000 cassowaries are believed to be left in the wild but you have a good chance of spotting them in various sections of the Wet Tropics Rainforest like the Girringun National Park near Ingham, Barron Falls National Park in Kuranda and in the rainforests of Daintree and Cape Tribulation. Mission Beach is another great place to see a cassowary and while you’re there, the Big Cassowary at Wongaling Beach makes for a fun photo stop.

Fascinating as they might be, you need to be “cass-o-wary” when exploring their habitat. Keep a safe distance if you’re lucky enough to see one as they can be aggressive, especially if their chicks are nearby. Also, drive cautiously on roads that pass through known cassowary habitats or if you encounter an injured animal, be sure to call a local vet.

You can also admire these unusual birds at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, Daintree Discover Centre, Port Douglas’ Wildlife Habitat and Bird World in Kuranda.

Southern Cassowary

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