Graeme Chapman - natural history photographer - ornithologist

Australian Birds

Southern Cassowary
Casuarius casuarius
(Viewing 4 of 7 photos)

The Cassowary, or correctly Southern Cassowary because there are also two other species of cassowary in New Guinea, is restricted to the rainforests of far NE Queensland as far south as near Townsville. Cassowaries have gained a reputation for being dangerous and certainly it would be unwise to disturb or pursue one with young at foot, but normally if you encounter a Cassowary in the rain forest, it will just quietly disappear into the forest.They do have a home range which has been estimated at up to a couple of square kilometres and again it would not be wise to disturb one near a nest or a favourite food site. They feed on fallen fruit in the rainforest and are an important vector in the distribution of seed and the health of the forest.

For most of the year, Cassowaries spend much of their time alone and only come together just prior to nesting. Like the Emu, females are larger than males. They lay 3 - 5 pea-green eggs on the floor of the forest, but the male is the one who incubates the eggs and tends to the young until they reach independence which can take up to 18 months.

Southern Cassowaries are now classed as endangered. Clearing of the rainforest has been the main problem but attacks by dogs and accidents involving cars are other causes of death.

Photo: 002001

002001 ... Southern Cassowary, immature.

Photo: 002002

002002 ... Southern Cassowary, immature.

Photo: 002203-D

002203-D ... Please slow down! Death on the road is all too common - a sad end for such a magnificent bird.

Photo: 002204-D

002204-D ... Southern Cassowary, adult.

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