Fun Northern Cassowary Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Oct 20, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Kids would love to read northern cassowary facts.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 9.0 Min

Flightless birds are some of the most interesting animals that we can find in our world. These large birds remind us of prehistoric ancestors like the dinosaurs.

One such bird is the northern cassowary that is endemic to the islands of Papua New Guinea. This bird is also known as the single wattled cassowary because of the presence of a single wattle.

The body of this large bird is covered in shiny black feathers, but the exposed skin of its neck is yellow or orange, while its head is blue. This quiet and solitary bird mainly feeds on fruits and seeds and animals that can be found in its natural habitat.

This large bird lives till an average age of 22-40 years. People have regarded the cassowary as a dangerous bird because of its strong kick. These birds can manage to run very fast with their powerful legs and can even attack humans.

The indigenous people of Papua New Guinea regard it to be a sacred bird. Unfortunately, humans haven't left these birds alone, and many people do practice hunting, especially when the birds are young.

This has led to a decrease in its population. We can only hope to preserve this beautiful flightless bird. Hence, keep on reading to learn more interesting northern cassowary facts.

Have a keen interest in animals? Check out the articles on house finch facts and dodo facts to learn more about birds.

Northern Cassowary Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a northern cassowary?

The northern cassowary is a large flightless bird species belonging to the Casuariidae family.

What class of animal does a northern cassowary belong to?

The northern cassowaries belong to the class Aves and to the genus Casuarius.

How many northern cassowaries are there in the world?

According to the IUCN Red List, the northern cassowary population is estimated to be between 10,000-19,999 mature individuals, though the number could be lower or higher. Unfortunately, the population of cassowaries is on the decline due to habitat loss and overhunting. It is currently protected under different wildlife laws to keep the population as stable as possible.

Where does a northern cassowary live?

The northern cassowaries are extant to the islands of Papua New Guinea. Some populations are also seen in Yapen, Salawati, and Batanata.

What is a northern cassowary's habitat?

The northern cassowaries inhabit tropical lowland rainforests and can also be seen near coastal swamps. These birds prefer to stay in places with an elevation of up to 1,610 ft (490 m).  

Who do northern cassowaries live with?

Cassowaries are known for being solitary birds except for the breeding season. It prefers to live a shy and subdued life by staying aloof about the world.

When the males have a chance meeting, each bird will try to show its power by ruffling and fluffing its feathers until one eventually leaves. Female cassowaries tend to be more aggressive towards males. Also, you can spot the juveniles with the fathers for up to nine months after being born.

How long does a northern cassowary live?

The average lifespan of the northern cassowary is between 22-40 years of age. These birds can also live till a longer age when kept in captivity. Sadly, many young birds are killed in illegal hunting.

How do they reproduce?

As solitary birds, the only time the cassowaries do come together is during the breeding season. The mating takes place during the winter and spring months of June to October.

The northern cassowary female can mate up to four times in a single season. These birds become more docile towards each other during this time, and the males get the opportunity to woo the females by performing a dance.

The birds will show mutual affection by rubbing the necks before moving on to mating. Males are the ones that make the nest, incubate the eggs, and also take care of the young.

The female birds lay around three to eight eggs in each clutch. The male birds will sit on the eggs for 47-56 days before it starts to hatch.

Some females may even lay up to 20 eggs in a single season as it mates with multiple males. Females in captivity may also lay an alternative clutch of eggs when one clutch is taken away.

It is often seen that the females quickly lay eggs on the ground before going away. It takes two years for a female cassowary to gain sexual maturity, while a male achieves it after three years.

What is their conservation status?

Currently, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List classifies the northern cassowary as of Least Concern.

Northern Cassowary Fun Facts

What do northern cassowaries look like?

Northern cassowary facts help to know about colorful birds.

The northern cassowary or the single wattled cassowary is known for its striking looks. It isn't the most handsome of birds, but its colorful face and large body grab your attention instantly.

The northern cassowary has a single wattle whereas, the southern cassowary has two wattles. Cassowaries are also known for carrying a lovely headgear which is also known as a helmet. It is larger in females compared to that of males.

When you first look at a cassowary, you are bound to think of dinosaurs because of their thick legs. The northern cassowaries have a smaller beak compared to the other cassowaries.

The body of this spectacular bird is covered with glossy black feathers that have a shaggy texture. You can mainly see the color in the skin that covers its head and neck.

The region of the neck is either red or bright orange, and the head is blue. This flightless bird looks quite old because of its wrinkly skin.

Some cassowaries may even have white wattles, but most have red or orange ones. Overall, the body of the cassowaries is very similar to that of an ostrich.

It has an elongated neck along with strong, thick legs with sharp claws. The juveniles look distinctly different from the adults because of their brown feathers compared to the black body feathers of adult cassowaries.

How cute are they?

We wouldn't really call the northern cassowaries cute, but the colorful appearance does make it quite appealing. The large size of this bird can definitely make people feel intimidated after seeing the birds.

How do they communicate?

Northern cassowaries are known for making an iconic boom sound to communicate among themselves, but they aren't too loud. As solitary birds, this low-frequency sound works better as it can travel a long distance in the wildlife of rainforests.

The northern cassowary sound of a boom is also made by the male birds to guide the young. A louder roar also accompanies this low-frequency boom sound at its end or in the beginning.

A ruffling of feathers is also done by the northern cassowary birds as a ritual while making the sound. Younger cassowaries use whistling, and peeping sounds for communication.

How big is a northern cassowary?

Even though the northern cassowary is smaller than the southern cassowary. The northern cassowary average height range is 4.9–5.9 ft (1.5–1.8 m), and it has an average body length range of 4.8 ft (1.4 m). The dwarf cassowary is the smallest member of the family with an average height of  1-1.1 m (3.2-3.6 ft).

How fast can a northern cassowary fly?

As a flightless bird, the northern cassowaries lack the power to fly. However, the birds make it up with their strong legs that allow it to run at almost 31 mph (49.9 kph) in its natural habitat of the rainforests.

This makes this heavy bird one of the fastest predators found on the island, and it also acts as a protection for the bird.

How much does a northern cassowary weigh?

The average weight range of the northern cassowaries is around 66-128 lb (30-58 kg). In this species, the females tend to be heavier than the males and can weigh almost double that of the males.

The northern cassowaries are also regarded as the third heaviest bird in the world. Ostriches occupy the first position of being the heaviest bird in the world.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Like other bird species, the male cassowaries are called cocks while the female cassowaries are called hens.

What would you call a baby northern cassowary?

A baby northern cassowary is called a chick.

What do they eat?

Northern cassowaries have an omnivorous diet, and this bird likes to munch on various fruits, seeds and berries. These birds also intake animals and insects as its food.

These birds predate on animals like mice, rats, frogs, lizards, snakes, and small birds for food. You may also find them eating small insects or snails.

This bird can go through hundreds of fruits and seeds in a day to maintain its heavy body. When the birds cannot find live food sources, it can also eat carcasses found in the wildlife. An interesting thing about this bird is its habit of eating its own feces.

As the dropping may contain undigested fruit and seeds, this is a great way to get a lot of nutrition. The juveniles also have a habit of eating the feces of elder males and clutch mates.

Are they poisonous?

No, the northern cassowary is far from being a poisonous bird. This species has been blessed with some strong legs that allow it to hunt after its desired prey and catch it in a jiffy.

Would they make a good pet?

Even though this flightless bird might give you the solace of having the closest animal to a pet dinosaur, as an endemic bird, it is illegal to keep the species as a pet.

Did you know...

The genus Casuarius consists of the northern cassowary, the southern cassowary, and the dwarf cassowary. It also contained the pygmy cassowary, which is now extinct. These birds are also part of the larger Casuariidae family which also contains the emu.

Why is the cassowary so dangerous?

Cassowaries are regarded as one of the world's most dangerous birds because of their aggressive nature. You wouldn't want to get on the bad side of this species, as it has got some powerful legs that can kick you quite hard.

Be it the dwarf cassowary or the big northern cassowary, and it can also run pretty fast. The bird also happens to have sharp claws that can easily dig into human skin.

Even though there is no end to the power of cassowaries, it is also speculated that it might not be the world's most dangerous bird. Some scientists believe that the bird might not be as threatening as people say.

In fact, some sources state that the last human killed by these birds was in 1926. However, the myth has been long established, and men often overhunt this bird for its meat.

Can a cassowary kill you?

Yes, a cassowary may kill you, though it is still a matter of debate. The northern cassowary is one of the largest birds found in Papua New Guinea, and it is known for its strong kick that the bird delivers with its powerful legs.

When cornered, a cassowary can get pretty aggressive and may harm humans that come in the front. As no conclusive data is found about killings, we don't know the speed of cassowaries' killer techniques.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our purple finch facts and blue jay facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable northern cassowary coloring pages.

Northern Cassowary Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Mice, Rats, Frogs, Lizards, Snakes, Small Birds, Insects

What Type of Animal were they?

Omnivores

Average Litter Size?

3-8 eggs

How Much Did They Weigh?

66-128 lb (30-58 kg)

What habitat Do they Live In?

tropical lowland rainforests

Where Do They Live?

papua new guinea, yapen

How Long Were They?

4.8 ft (1.4 m)

How Tall Were They?

4.9–5.9 ft (1.5–1.8 m)

Class

Aves

Genus

Casuarius

Family

Casuariidae

Scientific Name

Casuarius unappendiculatus

What Do They Look Like?

Black, Blue, Red, Yellow

Skin Type

Feathers

What Are Their Main Threats?

humans, domestic dogs, feral pigs

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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