Southern/Double-Wattled Cassowary

Southern/Double-Wattled Cassowary Casuarius casuarius

Type of Animal:

Lowland forest, mangrove forest, mangroves, melaleuca/paperbark swamps, beaches, wetlands, woodlands, fruit plantations, forest edge, open forest areas near streams, savanna forest, savanna, palm scrub, forested swamps, riverbanks, scrub forest, suburbs, farmland, grassland, not found above 3,608.924 ft

New Guinea, Seram, Aru Islands, NE Queensland

Largest of 3 cassowary species, 3rd heaviest bird species in world, black plumage, blue face, long blue neck, 2 red wattles, reddish-pinkish area at bottom of neck, long legs, large feet w/ sharp claws, females larger than males, grayish casque/helmet on head, flightless

Fruit, berries, fungi, carrion, vegetables, shoots, seeds, flowers, leaves, snails, frogs, reptiles, eggs, soil, insects, poop, small mammals, birds, fish

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos, wildlife parks, & private breeding centers. Close monitoring of wild populations (especially in Queensland).


Additional Info:

Male: Cock
Female: Hen
Young: Chick
Group: Solitary
Male: 121 lbs
Female: 167 lbs
Young: 6 lbs

2 months 

Life Span:
20-40 years

Male: 5.2-5.3 ft
Female: 6 ft
Young: 1 ft
Body Length:
Male: 5 ft
Female: 5.5-6 ft

Main predators of adults are crocodiles & canids. Pythons, cats, quolls, & pigs eat chicks/juveniles.
Male plays sole parental role, guarding eggs/chicks. Chicks leave dad at 9-18 months old. Clutch size ranges from 2-6 eggs.
While stable & increasing, threats include habitat loss/fragmentation, deforestation, road collisions, hunting for meat/bones/feathers/eggs, taking chicks from wild to be raised for meat, killing out of fear, retaliatory killings (they sometimes kill dogs in defense), dog/cat/pig predation, & natural disasters.
Active during the day (diurnal).
Very low frequency calls often unheard by humans.
Crest/casque/helmet on head used to sort through litter/undergrowth & sometimes as defense.
Males eat/drink very little when incubating/guarding eggs.
Highly territorial, w/ fights sometimes resulting in death. Females sometimes kill males outside of breeding season.
Play crucial role in seed dispersal in native habitat due to swallowing fruit whole & spreading seeds great distances.
Maturity reached at 2-3 years old.

Fun Fact(s):
Most dangerous bird in world due to sharp claws (especially middle toes). While shy, they’re fierce when cornered & highly temperamental. Males highly protective of eggs/chicks.
Great jumpers/runners, able to run as fast as 30 mph & jump 5 ft off ground.
Meat known to be so tough that people told to cook w/ stone in pot-“When stone is ready to eat, so is the cassowary.”

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