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No. 119: Sep-Oct 1998

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Cassowary, 1; Automobile, 0

Many birds are done in by fast-moving cars. The usual avian mode of retaliation involves defecation, especially on freshly washed and polished automobiles. On occasion, though, birds will use brute force. For example, keas (New Zealand parrots) consider it their duty to pry out the rubber gaskets around automobile windshields with their powerful bills.

A cassowary can be even more forceful. Recently, a motorist near Cairns, Australia, was forced to stop by a sixfoot cassowary standing in the middle of the road. He edged the car forward slowly, but the huge bird stood its ground. Then, he blew his horn. Bad move! The cassowary objected by kicking the auto, pushing the radiator into the fan, which cut a hole in it.

(Anonymous; "Feedback," New Scientist, p. 104, June 13, 1998.)

Comment. The flightless cassowaries are armed with sharp toenails, with which they disembowel New Guinea natives who displease them.

Cassowary Besides disposing of obstreperous automobiles, cassowaries are said to catch fish by wading into streams, spreading out their wings, waiting, and then closing them on sheltering fish. (From: Biological Anomalies: Birds).

From Science Frontiers #119, SEP-OCT 1998. � 1998-2000 William R. Corliss