An Unlikely Bird - The Cassowary
Another creature that plays an important role in my upcoming novel, SAVAGE (as well as the title role in my short story, BLUE ARROW) is the Cassowary. The Eastern Turkey is possibly the most impressive bird you’ll see in Missouri. When you see one, you think, “Cool, a turkey.” But when you lay eyes on a cassowary, you think, “Holy !$*#!, it’s a dinosaur!” The cassowary is the second heaviest bird (the Ostrich is first), and they live in New Guinea, its surrounding islands, and northern Australia. Trish and I were lucky enough to see a cassowary while on a rainforest hike in Queensland, Australia. We took video of it, but we could never show that video to our students because Trish, who was holding the camera, kept exclaiming, “Oh, Sh**! Oh, sh**! It’s a cassowary!” Yeah, it’s that exciting to see one.
These birds, which are about five feet tall and weigh up to 130 pounds, have a reputation for being aggressive (although, as usual, people’s opinions about this are exaggerated). When we would hike in areas where they lived, warning signs were posted at trailheads, and brochures about them were readily available. When Australians describe the dangers of cassowaries, they are fond of using the word “disembowel.” An unpleasant word, by any measure, but a cassowary has very sharp claws on its three dinosaur-like toes that are capable of doing some damage. Cassowaries, have a large, bony helmet, or casque, growing from the top of the head, but no one is quite sure of its function. Researchers have suggested it is used as a battering ram to protect the head as the bird runs through the thick tropical forest at up to 31 mph. Regardless, cassowaries are the most bone-headed birds I know of. Cassowaries can also jump 7 feet straight up, and they can swim wide rivers! Impressive, huh?
So the Cassowary is another animal deserving of the BAHF, and this time it stands for the “Bosker Animal Hall of Fame.”
Fun Fact: Bosker is another Australian and New Zealand slang adjective, which also means “Awesome.”
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