Home - Guide - Southern Cassowary

Located

    Southern cassowaries can be found in Northern
    Australia, New Guinea and surrounding islands.

Diet

    The diet of the southern cassowary consists mainly of
    fruit.  The cassowary is valuable to the rainforest because
    they spread the seeds of large fruit after eating the fruit.  
    After the fruit is initially eaten, the seeds pass through
    the digestive tract of the cassowary and exit in the dung
    of the cassowary.  In this respect they have been
    described as "gardeners of the rainforest".  The
    cassowary will also consume vegetation, insects and
    fungi.  

Habitat

    Cassowaries are true rainforest birds.  They are suited to
    live in the dense foliage of the rainforest and the low,
    swampy areas of Northern Australia and New Guinea.

Size and Description

    Cassowaries are the second heaviest bird on earth
    second only to the ostrich.  They can weigh up to 130
    pounds.  The average height of an adult cassowary is
    between 4.5 - 6 feet tall.  Both the female and male adult
    cassowary have the same appearance.  The plumage, or
    feathers, of the cassowary are black and cover the bird
    from the neck to the rump.  Like the ostrich, the feathers
    do not assist the cassowary in flight.  Rather, they offer
    protection from the elements of the rainforest.  The neck
    and head are a beautiful, bright blue color.  On the top of
    the head is a casque, a helmet-like structure that may
    protect the bird from thorns and branches that could
    scrape its face.  The feet are equipped with three toes
    that have sharp claws.  The inner toe has an enlarged
    claw that is used as protection against potential
    predators.       

Reproduction

    The breeding season occurs between June and
    November.  During this time the female can mate with
    one or more male cassowaries.  After mating, the female
    will build a nest out of foliage in a scrape and will lay
    between 2 - 5 eggs.  The male will then incubate the
    eggs and remain with the chicks for many months until
    they are capable of defending themselves.

Notes

    Although beautiful, the cassowary is potentially
    dangerous and should not be approached if seen in the
    wild.

    The cassowary, like many other rainforest animals, is
    threatened by human activity.  This includes hunting and
    habitat loss due to deforestation.
 
Southern Cassowary
(Casuarius casuarius)
 
Taxonomy
Kingdom:   Animalia
Phylum:   Chordata
Class:   Aves
Order:   Struthioniformes
Family:   Casuariidae
Genus:   Casuarius
Species:    casuarius
Location
Image
© Photographer: Luc Sesselle
IUCN Status:
Endangered
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