Thursday 28th March 2013, 11.50am (day 581)
This is a female Southern Cassowary, Casuarius casuarius, the second-heaviest and third-tallest species of bird in the world. They have the lowest bird-song of all, a near-subsonic rumble, just at the edge of human hearing. Cassowaries play a vital role in maintaining rainforest in a healthy state, distributing many seeds, and it is unclear whether any other species perform this role for many plants. They have large territories and are thus a good ‘signal’ species: if the cassowaries are in good shape, the ecosystem’s in good shape. Except that there are only 1,500 cassowaries left in the wild in Queensland. Half of them die in car crashes.
Be nice to cassowaries. I find I am quite taken with them as a species: even in a continent full of beautiful birdlife, it stands out. This lovely resides at the Lone Pine zoo, and this shot was the culmination of a 15-minute modeling session in which Ms. Casuarius was cajoled into posing by yr. humble photographer.