An Australian couple had a close encounter with one of the most dangerous birds in the world when a giant flightless cassowary wandered into their home, sending them running for cover.
Peter and Sue Leach were in their house at Wongaling Beach in far north Queensland state earlier this week when the bird- which can grow up to 6ft 6ins tall- sauntered in.
“My husband said, ‘look, we’ve got a visitor!’ and there he was walking into the house through the garage,” Sue Leach said. ”My husband quickly ran over behind the dining table and I went outside and stood on the driveway next to the car. At the same time, I was saying to my husband, get the camera!”
Leach said the cassowary, nicknamed “Peanut”, walked through the neighborhood regularly as it sits near a rainforest, but this was the first time she knew of it entering a home.
“He didn’t bump anything or look for food or the fruit bowl, which was good, and we didn’t spook him at all, because they’re still a wild animal and they’re spooked by dogs and things like that,” she said, adding that it was “very calm. It’s a very unusual experience.”
The southern cassowary is an endangered species found only in the tropical rainforests of northeast Queensland, Papua New Guinea and some surrounding islands. It is Australia’s heaviest flightless bird and can weigh up to 170 pounds. It has two powerful legs that end in talons punctuated by three-inch-long razor-sharp claws.
Cassowaries are ratites, which is an ancient family of birds that includes ostriches, emus, rheas, New Zealand’s extinct moa, and kiwis. Ratites began to evolve and disperse approximately 65 million years ago, around the same time as the Cretaceous extinction event that killed all of the non-avian dinosaurs.
It’s been suggested that ratites’ evolutionary ancestors were able to thrive and succeed after the extinction of terrestrial dinosaurs due to the newfound ecological opportunities that arose when no large predators were around to eat them. Cassowaries are so reminiscent of their dinosaur cousins that biologists have studied their low, booming calls to figure out how dinosaurs might have communicated with one another.
There have been 221 recorded attacks by cassowaries. Of those, 150 were against humans, in which the birds generally chased, charged, or kicked their victims. They can reach max speeds of 30 miles per hour. Approximately three-fourths of cassowary confrontations stemmed people trying to feed them. Moral of this story: Don’t try to feed a cassowary, just admire the closest animal we have to a dinosaur from afar.
Happy Flyday ~^v^~