The Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) is a large flightless bird. It is also called the Double-Wattled Cassowary or the Australian Cassowary. It is a ratite, related to the emu, ostrich, kiwi, and the rhea. There is also a Northern Cassowary (Casuarius unappendiculatus).
The Southern Cassowary has stiff, bristly black feathers, a blue face and neck, red on the cape and two red wattles hanging down around its throat. It has a horn-like brown casque on the top of its head. Its feet have three toes with one long claw on each foot.
It measures 127-170 centimetres (50-67 inches) tall. The casque on the top of its head measures 13-17 centimetres (5-7 inches). Its beak measures 10-19 centimetres (4-7.5 inches) in length.
The Southern Cassowary is native to north-eastern Australia, New Guinea, and Indonesia. It prefers tropical rain forests or mangrove regions.
It feeds on fallen fruit on the forest floor. It also eats fungi, and some insects and small vertebrates, such as worms.
The Southern Cassowary is a solitary bird, which pairs only in breeding season. It loves to hide from people, preferring to stay away from human contact.
The male builds a nest on the ground out of plant material. The female lays 3-4 green eggs, but the male sits on them until they hatch. The eggs are large, measuring 13 centimetres (5 inches) long. The male also takes care of the chicks. The female does not look after her chicks.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM