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Southern Cassowary

Updated on October 24, 2014

The Large Flightless Bird of Australia, the Southern Cassowary!

A strange looking bird, isn't it? This bird is the flightless Southern Cassowary, or Casuarius casuarius, which belongs to the ratite family just like the Kiwi, Emu, and extinct Moa. It is native to Australia, Indonesia, and New Guinea, and is currently in the "vulnerable" conservation status. These birds roam the forest floor in search of berries and fruit. While the bird looks dangerous, it is actually a shy bird, except when provoked or fed. The bird is also one of the largest birds in existence today.

The Southern Cassowary is also related to the other Cassowaries -- the Northern Cassowary and Dwarf Cassowary, but is the largest of the three. Read on for more information, pictures, links and facts about the Southern Cassowary!

Southern Cassowary photo by Manfred Werner under GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

The Southern Cassowary has a strange appearance, reminiscent of the dinosaurs. With the large crest on its head, the distinguishing feature, you can see that this bird is unlike any other. The crest, or "casque," is situated on top of the head of these birds for mainly unknown reasons. Some have guessed that the crest serves as a functional protective helmet on top of their skulls, as they are known to run quickly in forests, or to dig around in forest brush. Another reason might be that the casque helps the Cassowary hear the other low frequency calls of its fellow birds in the dense forest.

The Southern Cassowary has feathers that resemble fur, like other ratites, and have porcupine-like quills. They are also known for their powerful legs and dangerous sharp middle claw that can be used to attack and kill in some rare cases.

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Are the Southern Cassowary Endangered?

The conservation status of the Southern Cassowary

The conservation status of the Southern Cassowary is threatened, but not endangered. There were approximately 2500 of these birds left in Australia in 2000, with declining numbers due to roadkills, hunting and building.

The Southern Cassowary, many ratite cousins!

Did you know that the Southern Cassowary is closely related to the kiwi?

Behavior of the Southern Cassowary

The diet, mating behavior and temperament of this Australian and Indonesian bird

The Southern Cassowary eats mainly plants on the forest floor, such as fruits and fungi. They will also eat small insects, and can digest fruits inedible to other bird species. The bird also likes to be alone most of the year except for mating season, when it builds large nests from plant matter in the spring/winter months. The male does most of the incubation work, and tends for the little Cassowary chicks upon hatching.

Books & Products on Australia - ...and the Southern Cassowary!

Cassowary Fact:

This bird is completely flightless, with useless wings that serve no purpose!


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    • Stephanie36 profile image

      Stephanie 5 years ago from Canada

      Such interesting birds! I've seen them in zoos...would love to see one in the wild.

    • LadyFlashman profile image

      LadyFlashman 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      The Southern Cassowary is such a fascinating and beautiful bird, I had never heard of them before this lens so thank you for the education!

    • profile image

      GrowWear 7 years ago

      Now that's a bird. Hoping the Cassowary don't become extinct.

    • profile image

      ruthr 7 years ago

      thanks for this cassowary page. actually cassowaries are listed as endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Check out the save the cassowary campaign at

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 8 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Very unusual looking bird...thanks for the introduction!

    • oztoo lm profile image

      oztoo lm 8 years ago

      Fascinating lens on a most peculiar looking bird. 5*****. and featured on my Australian Native Flowers lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      hi i like looking at this