Ostrich, Emu, Cassowary


Wait A Minute!!  You Like Me for My What?!?

My father told me all about the birds and the bees, the liar - I went steady with a woodpecker till I was twenty-one.

- Bob Hope

Source: © Lindwood Farm, Incorporated, 400 Glenmeade Road, Greensburg, Pennsylvania 15601, 1 (800) 274-3263

This card was mailed to me by Ostrim, a company that makes ostrich sticks - like beef sticks only made with ostrich.  Do they really think it helps sales for you to see the faces of the animals you'd be eating?


Who Says I Can't Fly?

Click to Play

Amorous Emu Fails to Get Her Man

Mobile, Alabama - A 6-foot-tall, 150-pound emu that fell head over heels in love with an Alabama man and stalked him for days was turned loose Thursday on a farm populated by her own species.  "It was mating season and she took a fond liking to him," Diane Roberts, director of the Mobile, Alabama, Animal Rescue Foundation, told Reuters.  "He had to ward her off with a boat paddle.  She was absolutely intent that this was her mate."

The giant bird showed up at the home of Ed and Ann Stuardi last month, drinking from a birdbath and eating berries in their yard.  They fed it dog food.  Last week the emu began following Ed Stuardi around.  Then it became aggressive, chasing their cats.  Stuardi tried to frighten the bird away by shooting his gun into the air.  The emu just stood there, looking at him forlornly.  By Monday, it was making noises deep in its throat, a mating call Stuardi failed to recognise as the bird approached him.  Shorter than the bird, he held it off with a boat paddle.

Monday night and Tuesday, the Stuardis cowered inside their home.  Ann Stuardi called the sheriff to beg for help but was told deputies didn't have the equipment to catch the bird.  That's when Animal Rescue Foundation got involved.

"She pursued him.  They had been feeding her, and when mating season hit, he almost got it.  She had her heart set on this man," said Roberts.  "I've never seen an emu hold hostages," she said.  "He wasn't aware what the bird wanted, or why she was stalking him.  I've never seen one stalk a human with procreation in mind."

Animal Rescue had been looking for the bird since Aug. 22, when it heard that a man had moved away from the area, abandoning three emus.  The other two birds still have not been found.  It took several hours for the rescue team to persuade the bird to get into a horse trailer so it could be taken to a farm that cares for injured wildlife.  Roberts said the emu's only injury was a broken heart, and it was released into an area with other emus, including several males.  "Hopefully she will meet another fellow and forget all about Mr Stuardi.  After all, he is a married man," Roberts said.

Source: Reuters Thursday October 22 1999

This Emu Got Hers

A man walks up to the bar with an emu behind him.  As he sits down, the bartender comes over and asks for their order.  The man says, "I'll have a beer."  He turns to the emu and asks, "What's yours?"  "I'll have a beer too," says the emu.  The bartender pours the beer and says, "That will be $3.40 please."  The man reaches into his pocket and pulls out the exact change for payment.

The next day, the man and the emu come in again, and the man says, "I'll have a beer," and the emu says, "I'll have the same."  Once again the man reaches into his pocket and pays with the exact change.

This becomes a routine until, late one evening, the two enter again.  "The usual?" asks the bartender.  "Well, it's close to last call, so I'll have a large scotch," says the man.  "Same for me," says the emu.  "That will be $7.20," says the bartender.  Once again the man pulls exact change out of his pocket and places it on the bar.  The bartender can't hold back his curiosity any longer.  "Excuse me sir, how do you manage to always come up with the exact change out of your pocket every time?" he asks.

"Well," says the man, "Several years ago I was cleaning the attic and found an old lamp.  When I rubbed it a Genie appeared and offered me two wishes.  My first wish was that if I ever had to pay for anything, I just put my hand in my pocket, and the right amount of money will always be there."  "That's brilliant!" says the bartender, "Most people would wish for a million dollars or something, but you'll always be as rich as you want for as long as you live!"

"That's right!  Whether it's a gallon of milk or a Rolls Royce, the exact money is always there," says the man.

The bartender asks, "One other thing, sir, what's with the emu?"

The man replies, "My second wish was for a chick with long legs..."

Is he lucky he didn't get a cassowary instead?

Cassowary: Friend or Foe?

The Kuranda area of far north Queensland is a key zone for the endangered Cassowary, the birds around Cassowary House have raised 7 chicks since June 1998, with another male a couple of kilometres along the same road having a similar record and currently having 4 chicks.  In January 2002 we had a new female appear, and occasionally join with the family group, though the regular female soon drives her away when they coincide here.  The individual birds are readily recognisable by their casque shapes and patterns, with males having a drooping bustle and females being considerably larger and having a more pear shaped rear end.

Major threats here include uncontrolled dogs wandering in the state forest, feral pigs destroying the nests, and above all else road traffic.  Our dirt road has a 40 km/h speed limit, which is often ignored, and requests for traffic calming bumps have met with disinterest from the Shire Council, an often unsympathetic one where the environment is concerned.  One official from the Queensland State Forests Department actually told us that we couldn’t have speed bumps because people drive too fast - go figure.  I think it’s all to do with the dreaded liability issue.

The Kuranda area is undoubtedly once of the best places to see the charismatic birds, easily as good as the well-known Mission Beach where the traffic issue is a similar problem.  They had 4 birds killed on their roads in 2001, whilst we lost one late in 2000 to a road gravel lorry, with another hit and not accounted for.  It is clearly time to raise the profile for this bird, which could easily be the flagship charismatic megafauna species for a major ecotourism and conservation initiative.  Sadly, the Cassowary Conservation Liaison Officer appointed when the species was declared endangered in late 2000 was only a temporary appointment, funded for a few months to tie in with the new conservation status, but then abandoned.

Source: cassowary-house.com.au

Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) 200 cm

bulletThe Cassowary has Gondwanaland origins (when much more of Australia was covered by rainforests).
bulletThere are two other cassowary species in New Guinea.
bulletIt lives to about 50 years of age.
bulletDespite being a bird, the Cassowary is Australia’s largest land animal.
bulletIt normally weighs about 60kg, but the heaviest recorded was 83kg.
bulletIts eggs are the third largest of all birds at an average 584g (after the Ostrich eggs at 1100g and Emu eggs at 637g).
bulletEven though it is large and colourful, it can be hard to see in the rainforest.  At close quarters it may be quite frightening.
bulletIt has powerful legs and if provoked may kick in defence.  The sharp nails on its inner toes can easily rip flesh so the Cassowary is capable of killing humans.
bulletUnable to fly, all it has is the vestigial remains of wings.  These have 3-5 large wire-like feathers attached that help brush aside any plants in its travelling path.  As it moves it also holds its head down for protection and lifts its toes right up under its chin.
bulletIts hard casque or helmet comprises a central cartilage core and an outer tough horn-like skin covering.  Its size is possibly significant in determining social status.
bulletThe Cassowary is an endangered species, with estimates of only 1500 remaining.
bulletThis means there may be fewer Cassowaries in Australia than Pandas in China.
bulletIt has relatives such as the Elephant Bird of Madagascar and the moas of New Zealand that became extinct after contact with humans.
bulletIts extinction could affect rainforest plant diversity as it helps spread the seeds of up to 100 tree and shrub species.
bulletIts short digestive system allows it to eat the fruits of poisonous plants by eliminating the toxins before absorbing them.  This seems to be associated with a highly active liver and an unusual combination of stomach enzymes.
bulletSeeds usually remain intact and can grow after passing through the bird.  Accordingly, the Cassowary is often referred to as a "keystone species" in seed dispersal.
bulletOther animals such as the Musky Rat Kangaroo often include part-digested fruit from the Cassowary’s droppings in their diets.


bulletThe only time the Cassowary is not solitary is during the breeding season.  At other times, if there is an accidental meeting, the female is dominant (it is larger with brighter colours).
bulletA female often lay eggs in more than one male's nest, but then leaves the family responsibilities to them!  The male incubates the eggs (for about 50 days) and looks after the young until he becomes intolerant of them and chases them away at about one year of age.
bullet4 or 5 blue-green eggs are laid from May/June to October/November.
bulletThe chicks are striped until they are about 6-9 months old and become a glossy black colour when they are about 3 years old.

Additional Information

bullet"Henry" was a well-known Cassowary living in the Lake Barrine region.  He was born in November 1989 in the Gadgarra State Forest a short distance to the east.  Being constantly surrounded by humans since his birth, he was easily approachable (unlike other cassowaries).
bulletIn his youth he was a regular visitor to the clearing at Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodge.
bulletHenry had the advantage of easily finding food (given to him by his many visitors) without having to travel throughout the rainforest in search of the freshest fallen fruits for himself.
bulletHis residence at Lake Barrine was a tourist drawcard but caused several problems.  In particular, he was a hazard to traffic and finally died after a minor collision with a truck.

Some Ways to Help

bulletIt’s best not to stop if you see a Cassowary on the road, but to slow down instead.  This is to prevent encouragement of the bird’s interest in cars and to reduce its risk of being hit or causing an accident.
bulletDo not feed a Cassowary as this reinforces its interest in people and contributes to its fearless attitude.
bulletWhen driving near a Cassowary, move away quickly so the bird will become disinterested.
bulletKeep car doors and windows closed to exclude cassowaries.
bulletPlease inform others of these suggestions.

Source: rainforest-australia.com/cassowary

For more on animals, including reptiles, crustaceans, arachnids, insects, fish, birds, pets, livestock, rodents, bears, primates, whales and Wellington's waterfront, click "Up" below to take you to the Table of Contents for this Animals section.

Back Home Up Next