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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Amaze-wing Facts About The Southern Cassowary For Kids

Read Southern cassowary facts about the bird found in New Guinea, Indonesia, and Australia.

Have you heard of one of the world's most dangerous birds? Along with the ostrich and emu, the Southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) are considered dangerous birds. So, why are they dangerous? What do they look like? What do they eat? Read this article all about Southern cassowaries to find the answers to these questions and more!

Southern cassowaries are enormous, giant, colorful, and vicious birds with gray-colored powerful legs, and soft, shining feathers on their body and tail. Amazingly, their skin color changes with the mood swings of the Southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius). They have a blue, torque-colored long neck and helmet-like casque (5-6 in long) which sits on top of their head, three-toed feet, and enough powerful energy to attack viciously. Its feet are used to kick its enemies and its casque skin is not as hard as it looks, but it grows with age. Interestingly, females have a bigger casque than males. This Australian Casuarius is the world's tallest bird with a healthy weight. The habitats of this bird are rainforests, woodlands, and mangroves found in Australia, New Guinea, and Indonesia.

For further details about these fantastic creatures, read through this article. If learning about animals amazes you, check out our guide to the ostrich and crowned eagle too!

Southern Cassowary Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Southern cassowary?

The  Southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) is also known as the two-wattled cassowary. It is a bird with a vast structure and red-colored wattles hanging down from its neck, with sharp three-toed feet.

What class of animal does a Southern cassowary belong to?

Like many birds and reptiles, Southern cassowaries belong to the Aves class. They are considered to be the biggest Australian bird.

How many Southern cassowaries are there in the world?

Sadly, the number of Southern cassowaries in the world is reducing day by day. They are primarily found in Queensland in Australia, New Guinea, and Indonesia. In 2014, reports in Australia counted just 4000 of these flightless birds.

Where does a Southern cassowary live?

Many of these double-wattled cassowaries live in tropical rainforests in Queensland. They also like to stay in places near beaches, woodlands, and mangroves. As they depend primarily on different types of plants for food they build shelters in mixed environments where finding food is less of a problem. More generally, we find these powerful birds in Australia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea.

What is a Southern cassowary's habitat?

The habitats of Southern cassowaries are in the rainforest, melaleuca swamps, and mangrove forests. They depend mostly on fallen fruit found on the forest floor so, they choose locations where food is available in abundance. They are sometimes called seed carriers because the cassowary carries seeds from trees in the rainforest from one place to another.

Who do Southern cassowaries live with?

Southern cassowaries like to live alone. These solitary animals create a large home in dense forests, so it is normal for these birds to stay away from one another. Their home range is approximately 0.52-2.35 km². Only during the breeding season, do cassowaries come into contact with each other.

How long does a Southern cassowary live?

Along with ostriches, the cassowaries are considered among the most dangerous birds globally. The average Southern cassowary lifespan is between 40 and 50 years. But deforestation, road kills, and the clearing of lands is leading to its population's decline.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season starts between May and June. Female cassowary birds follow the polygynandry method, mating with more than one male partner during each breeding season, so each female lays between three and eight eggs. Southern cassowary eggs are laid in different colors like bright green, and pale green-blue eggs.  Do you know any other birds that lay such colorful eggs? By laying these green eggs, the female bird's job is complete, and males take responsibility for incubating the eggs for approximately 50 days. They add and remove litter to these eggs in order to regulate the temperature, and, once hatched, they protect their little birds from dogs, humans, and other predators for nine months, as well as providing them with food and water. The father cassowary will not leave the young chicks even to meet his own basic needs.

What is their conservation status?

The Southern cassowary bird is considered endangered in Queensland. But, the IUCN has changed these birds' conservation status from Vulnerable to of Least Concern recently. The reasons for the decrease in this species' population are road kills, the clearing of lands, and the threat from feral pigs and dogs. If the large-scale destruction of forests destruction is stopped, we have a better chance at saving these vulnerable species.

Southern Cassowary Fun Facts

What do Southern cassowaries look like?

For Southern cassowaries, the male incubates the eggs for 50 days

Southern cassowaries are a giant bird with a neck that is bent downwards, a helmet-like casque on its head, two red wattles hanging down from the neck, and a sharp beak. Their long feet have only three toes. Their bodies are a jet black color with their neck and head covered in blue and violet color combinations.

How cute are they?

Cassowaries are flightless birds with sharp claws, a very large body, and powerful legs. If we ignore their aggression, these birds can be considered cute. They have a blue-colored long neck and bright red wattles. Their feathers resemble a thick fur blanket, with a casque on its head that grows with age. Therefore, this colorful bird is very cute appearance-wise. These solitary animals are a feast for the eyes, but they are ranked as one of the most dangerous species in the world!

How do they communicate?

Southern cassowaries stay in the dense tropical rainforest so the frequency of the Southern cassowary call is very low and quiet. They communicate in very low frequencies (23 Hz fundamental frequency) and the sounds that they make are called booms. While making this sound, they try to bend their head down to the ground. Their casque also plays a vital role in the sound resonating. They communicate only during the breeding season or when detecting dangers. Some people say that their sound resembles that of a growling mammal.

How big is a Southern cassowary?

The Southern cassowary (also known as the Casuarius casuarius johnsonii) is a massive bird with a long bent neck with a helmet on its head called a casque. The average Southern cassowary height is 5.8 ft (170 cm), as tall as some humans. Male cassowaries weigh 121 lb (55 kg), and females weigh 167 lb (76 kg). The Southern cassowary size is approximately 50 times bigger than the hummingbird's size.

Can a Southern cassowary fly?

The Southern cassowary cannot fly. This giant bird that resembles a dinosaur has soft, black feathers on its body and these birds belong to the Ratites group. In this group, birds have heavy feathers and flat breast bone. Their muscles don't support flying.

How much does a Southern cassowary weigh?

The Southern cassowary is the third heaviest Australian bird. The female bird's weight is heavier than the males. Female cassowaries weigh 167 lb (76 kg) and males weigh around 121 lb (55 kg). The weight of any individual bird depends on its food intake. Cassowaries mainly eat fruits and small vertebrates like tiny fish and frogs, fungi, and different species of plants.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There is no particular name for the cassowaries' female and male birds. The females are simply called female cassowaries, and the males are male cassowaries. A group of cassowaries is called a Shock.

What would you call a baby Southern cassowary?

The babies of Southern cassowary birds are called chicks. Unlike its mother, a baby cassowary will have stripes all over his body. They leave their father cassowaries after nine months and learn to become independent cassowaries.

What do they eat?

Is the Southern cassowary omnivore? Yes, the Southern cassowary diet consists mainly of fallen fruits on the forest grounds and small vertebrates. They also eat fungi, plants, seeds, and invertebrates. During hot seasons they drink water by bending their head down and then lifting it to swallow. They swallow any fruit as a whole. They also often try to eat their poo which for more of these undigested fruits.

Are they loud?

No, the Southern double-wattled cassowary is not at all loud. They make low-frequency sounds during the breeding season to attract mates or to attack enemies. These rumbling and booming sounds are very low in frequency.

Would they make good pets?

The Southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) is considered one of the most dangerous birds in the world. Though they are colorful with adorable looks, they are not good pets. These wildlife species like to spend time in solitude and they can become aggressive when threatened. A Southern cassowary attack can be very dangerous. They use their claws to attack their predators, and once a cassowary has even killed a human! The Southern cassowary kills predators quickly, using its sharp claws.

Did you know...

The Southern cassowary kick can be lethal. These birds (found in Australia, New Guinea, and Indonesia) don't like human interference in their lives and they don't want to be disturbed and provoked.

Southern cassowary eggs are green in color. This green color is thanks to the pigment present in their eggshells. This color helps to protect the eggs from Southern cassowary birds' predators in the rainforest.

They have hidden spikes in their wings, but even these dangerous birds have predators, including crocodiles, dogs, and humans.

The male Southern cassowary plays a vital role in his chicks' growth beyond the initial breeding season.

As they live in dense forests, these birds adapt to the environment, nature, and climate of the forests. Just one of many Southern cassowary adaptations is that their fur-based feathers protect them from thorns and spikes present in their surroundings.

Though they cannot fly, these animals are experts in swimming and sprinting.

Why is the cassowary so dangerous?

Crossswaries are considered to be dangerous flightless birds. When provoked by humans or enemies, the Southern cassowary attacks them with its claws. Like ostriches and emus, they have very sharp, knife-shaped talons and, as we know, they are great sprinters. The Southern cassowary attacks at a speed of 50km per hour, and with the help of their sharp nails, they scratch upwards and downwards on their enemies. They need to be handled with great care, as they won't attack anyone without reason.

Why is the Southern cassowary endangered?

The Southern cassowary is not listed as Endangered on the ICUN red list, but their number reduces day by day. The numbers are reducing for many reasons. Roadkills and land clearings are among the main reasons for the decreasing numbers of this species. They are an essential species to the environment because they are seed carriers that carry the seeds of different fruits from one place to another. In doing this, they help to promote the growth of dense forests. To save these valuable species, the Australian government has taken some measures, including growing different plant species in the rainforest to encourage biodiversity.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including the great green macaw, or Fischer's lovebird.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Southern Cassowary coloring pages.

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