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The Cassowary: A Unique Bird

Updated on December 27, 2016

An Introduction to the Cassowary

The cassowary is a beautiful and unique bird that is native to New Guinea and north-eastern Australia. Many people have never heard of the cassowary, which isn't surprising since there are fewer than 1500 left in in the wild. It's a shame they are so unknown as they are critical to the preservation of the Australian rainforest.

I certainly had never heard of the cassowary until I travelled to Australia. However, if you do go to Australia, then once you're there, this magnificant bird is hard to miss; it has a home in most wildlife parks so that visitors can safely see and learn about them. It is rare to find a wild cassowary and, quite frankly, is not something you want. They can be very aggressive and are lethal if they attack.

Read on to learn more about the fascinating cassowary and why it is so important that we save them. Along the way you'll be treated to cassowary pictures and you might just see a few cassowary gifts that interest you.

Images belong to author unless otherwise credited.

What is the Cassowary?

Some background information

The cassowary is unique and beautiful bird that is native to New Guinea and north-eastern Australia. They are also scattered across some of the nearby small islands. Scientists aren't sure if all of the populations are natural or if some resulted from the trading of young birds by Natives. Like the more commonly known ostrich and emu, the cassowary is a ratite, which means it is flightless. However, this certainly does not mean it is defenceless, like the New Zealand Kiwi. Many people think it looks prehistoric or jurassic, and with the large horn on top of it's head, it's easy to understand where that description comes from.

The cassowary is well adapted at living in the rainforest. It is thought that its wedge shape allows it to move easily past vines, sharpt leaves, and thorns. It can reach speeds of up to 50 km/hour (31 miles/hour) and is able to jump up to 1.5 metres (4.9 feet) high. It is also an excellent swimmer and has been seen in rivers and the sea.

Image from

Cassowary Gifts - Intrigue people

So many people don't know what a cassowary is. It's a shame, and something we should strive to change. Here are just a few fantastic cassowary gifts you could get for someone to introduce them to this remarkable bird. Or, you could get one for yourself and use it as a conversation starter.

Beware the Cassowary

This video gives you a glimpse of how powerful these creatures can be.

Species of Cassowary

There are three species of cassowary. The most well known, likely because it is the most accessible, is the Southern Cassowary. These are found in the rainforests of Queensland, Australia. Adults usually grow to1.5-1.8 metres (4.9-5.9 feet) tall and weigh nearly 60 kg. The other species, the Northern and Dwarf Cassowaries, are less common.

All of the species have a type of horn on the top of their heads. It is soft and spongy and can be up to 18 centimetres. These horns are called casques. No one is positive what their purpose is, but there are several working theories. One possibility is that the casque helps cassowaries move through the dense underbrush of the rainforest or assists them in moving aside leaves when foraging for food. Because they run at such high speeds, the casque might help protect the cassowary if it runs into a tree. Others think that it is a weapon when a cassowary is fighting for dominance. Another theory is that the casque is a secondary sexual characteristic. Yet other possibilities are that it protects the cassowary from falling fruit or that it amplifies sound. Because cassowaries are so elusive, it is difficult to determine much about them with any certainty.

Image from


The Cassowary is in the Guinness Book of Records as the most dangerous bird in the world.

Have You Seen a Cassowary?

Have you ever seen this unique bird?

See results

A Sociable Cassowary

Take a look at this video of a very curious cassowary. Despite seeming friendly, cassowaries can be aggressive if they are threatened and are very dangerous, so be careful!

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    • poetryman6969 profile image


      3 years ago

      Interesting bird and a reminder that not everything in nature is cuddly and petable.

    • Stephanie36 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Canada

      @tazzytamar: Yes, they're not very well known. Hopefully they're able to survive.

    • tazzytamar profile image


      4 years ago from chichester

      What a fascinating species - I never knew these birds existed, but I really enjoyed learning about them - I hope they manage to increase their population though...

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Amazing birds, I've seen one at a zoo but it was a long time ago and I'm not sure which zoo it was.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      5 years ago from USA

      They look like a cross of several birds don't they? I didn't realize how large they were until I saw the video.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      The still shot from the second video truly shows just how big these birds are. Seeing the first video makes it obvious that you wouldn't want to get on the bad side of these beautiful birds. Gosh, there are just so many interesting birds in your region of the world.

    • RawBill1 profile image


      5 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      Great Lens! Sadly the Cassowary is in danger of becoming extinct if our rainforests are not protected. We are much more dangerous to them than they are to us!

    • Stephanie36 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Canada

      @LouisaDembul: Good idea! They're pretty viscious.

    • Stephanie36 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Canada

      @Loretta L: Definitely a good idea!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I had heard the name but never associated it with what it looks like. Thanks!

    • LouisaDembul profile image


      5 years ago

      I'd better stay out of the way of the cassowary!

    • Loretta L profile image

      Loretta Livingstone 

      5 years ago from Chilterns, UK.

      Remind me never to upset one of these critters!

    • takkhisa profile image


      5 years ago

      Oh dangerous bird! I have seen this bird on TV!


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