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Be wary, cassowary.

You're hiking through a deep, dark

forest on an island far away. You hear

a low rumbling growl. Something is out

there, and it sounds dangerous.

Suddenly a strange shape thrashes through

the ferns. It flashes past you. The creature

looks like a bird, but it's taller than you are!

It has a huge bump on its blue head, and it's

running faster than a school bus!

The bird you just encountered is a

cassowary (CASS-oh-wair-ee). It lives in the

forests of the second-largest island

in world--New Guinea (GIN-nee).

Cassowaries can run at speeds up to 30

miles per hour. When cornered they defend

themselves by kicking. A slash from their

six-inch claws can kill most predators--including people.

Tall mountains and deep, forested valleys

cover most of New Guinea. Because of this.

most people live in small, isolated villages.

Each village has its own language. More than

700 different languages are spoken in New


Cassowaries cannot fly. They belong to a

family of birds called ratites. This family

includes the ostrich of Africa, the emu of

Australia, and the rhea of South America.

Thousands of years ago, a ratite called the

diatryma lived in North America. It was

more than 10 feet tall!

People in the mountains of New

Guinea enjoy festivals called "sing-sings."

During one of these festivals,

men put on frightening masks or

paint their faces in bright colors.

Other villagers join the singing,

dancing, and feasting, which may last

for several days.

The bony bump on the

cassowary's head is called a

helmet. The bird uses this

helmet to push through the

thick undergrowth of the


Tree kangaroos and many birds live in the

forests of New Guinea. So do two of the

deadliest snakes in the-world--the taipan

(tie-PAN) and the death adder.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Children's Better Health Institute
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:bird from New Guinea
Publication:U.S. Kids
Date:Mar 1, 1998
Previous Article:Cooking on a Stick.
Next Article:Soap it up!

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