Southern cassowaries can be found in Northern
Australia, New Guinea and surrounding islands.
The diet of the southern cassowary consists mainly of Habitat
fruit. The cassowary is valuable to the rainforest because
they spread the seeds of large fruit after eating the fruit.
After the fruit is initially eaten, the seeds pass through
the digestive tract of the cassowary and exit in the dung
of the cassowary. In this respect they have been
described as "gardeners of the rainforest". The
cassowary will also consume vegetation, insects and
Cassowaries are true rainforest birds. They are suited to
live in the dense foliage of the rainforest and the low,
swampy areas of Northern Australia and New Guinea.
Size and Description
Cassowaries are the second heaviest bird on earth
second only to the ostrich. They can weigh up to 130
pounds. The average height of an adult cassowary is
between 4.5 - 6 feet tall. Both the female and male adult
cassowary have the same appearance. The plumage, or
feathers, of the cassowary are black and cover the bird
from the neck to the rump. Like the ostrich, the feathers
do not assist the cassowary in flight. Rather, they offer
protection from the elements of the rainforest. The neck
and head are a beautiful, bright blue color. On the top of
the head is a casque, a helmet-like structure that may
protect the bird from thorns and branches that could
scrape its face. The feet are equipped with three toes
that have sharp claws. The inner toe has an enlarged
claw that is used as protection against potential
The breeding season occurs between June and
November. During this time the female can mate with
one or more male cassowaries. After mating, the female
will build a nest out of foliage in a scrape and will lay
between 2 - 5 eggs. The male will then incubate the
eggs and remain with the chicks for many months until
they are capable of defending themselves.
Although beautiful, the cassowary is potentially
dangerous and should not be approached if seen in the
The cassowary, like many other rainforest animals, is
threatened by human activity. This includes hunting and
habitat loss due to deforestation.