The Most Dangerous Bird in the World

Southern Cassowary, Adelaide Zoo

Southern Cassowary, Adelaide Zoo

Most Australians have a healthy respect for our dangerous animals – things like our spiders, snakes, sharks and so on. Even many visitors are warned before entering Australia about the dangers lurking around every corner.

What most people do not realise is that we also have what is considered by many to be the world’s most dangerous bird.

The Southern Cassowary of Papua New Guinea and northern Queensland has caused at least one death. Its sharp claws are razor sharp, it has a propensity to attack with little provocation and is very large. An adult can be from 1.5m – 1.8m (5 – 6 feet) in height so we are not dealing with a little bush bird. For comparison, an Emu is slightly taller (1.5 – 2m) and the Ostrich slightly taller again (1.75 – 2.75m)

There is a very interesting and quite long article about the Southern Cassowary on the Smithsonian website here. It poses the question: ‘Should Cassowaries be fed or feared?’ Personally, if one walked into my garden I’d excitedly photograph it from every window of the house with a view of the visitor, and then ring the local zoo to come and collect it. When it comes to hungry cassowaries I think I’d be wary and just a bit of a chicken. (I will not apologise for those awful puns!)

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3 Responses to “The Most Dangerous Bird in the World”

  1. John Tongue says:

    We had one wander across in front of our car in a ‘car park’ in the national park near Daintree a few years back. After searching for them for so long, I got so excited, I hopped out, snapping away with my camera. Then, as I got pretty close, I remembered the stories, and retreated to the car!

  2. Trevor says:

    Well done John. The wisdom of hindsight is wonderful as opposed to the impatience of an excited birder. Hope the photos were worth the risk.

    Some years ago I read about someone driving in the same area and they came across a cassowary strolling down the road. It would not move out of the way and much tooting of the horn was the response. It evidently was highly annoyed by the noise and one swift kick through the car’s radiator solved the problem and it resumed its casual stroll down the road. The car went nowhere.

    Not sure if this story is true – but it makes a great yarn.

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