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Information for Cassowary (Southern) - Casuarius casuarius

Eukaryota >Animalia > Chordata > Aves > Casuariiformes > Casuariidae > Casuarius > Casuarius casuarius

Cassowary (Southern)
Casuarius casuarius

Found only in far north Queensland and New Guinea, the Southern Cassowary is the second largest bird in the world (after the ostrich).

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Southern Cassowary - Male Southern Cassowary - Casuarius casuarius - Photo by Alex Pawlow

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It can weigh up to 85kg and grow to 190cm tall, a truly impressive sight to see in the wild.

One of the best places to see this bird in the wild is north of the Daintree River, where they are often spotted alongside or crossing the main road. It is for this reason that visitors are encouraged to drive slowly through this area, as they have a habit of wandering out without paying any attention to the passing traffic.

Generally the cassowary is a solitary bird, apart from the breeding season (late winter or spring). The male will build a large nest of plant material to keep the eggs of the ground and away from the ever present tropical rains.

Once the eggs are laid (generally around 3 or 4), the male bird incubates and raises them. Whilst he is looking after the chicks, he will be very protective and can attack unwary onlookers if he feels threatened. They can be very dangerous, with powerful legs with blade like claws that can kill a perceived threat (humans included).

The Southern Cassowary is currently in decline in the wild, due to dog attacks and car strikes. It is believed that the Daintree Rainforest is one of the last strong holds, with a possibly growing population.