Double-wattled/Southern Cassowary Casuarius casuarius

Double-wattled Casowary
Double-wattled Casowary
Southern Casowary
The Double-wattled or Southern Cassowary is the world's second heaviest, third tallest and second most dangerous bird. It is native to North-eastern Australia and southern New Guinea.
Double-wattled Casowary
Double-wattled Casowary
Double-wattled Casowary
The bizarre and colourful bird is heavier (at some 80kg) than the taller Emu but not as tall/heavy as the Ostrich. The larger females can be 2 metres high. Normally shy and retiring, the vegetarian birds can and will easily kill a large mammal, including humans, if they feel their territory is breached. They can kill with one kick of their heavy feet with an inner toe (of 3) that can slash like a knife.
Double-wattled Casowary
Double-wattled Casowary
Double-wattled Casowary
The strange horn growth like a helmet is said to protect their heads when foraging in their dense forest habitat. Fruit-eating birds, they disperse some 70 species of seed in the forest. Cassowaries, like Ostriches, Emus and Rheas, are "ratites" - flightless birds. Like other ratites, the father incubates the eggs and raises the young alone.
Double-wattled Casowary
Double-wattled Casowary
Double-wattled Casowary juvenile
Unusually for birds, females are generally more colourful than the males and have larger casques. The eggs are dark green. Juveniles (above, right) are brown and without the head casque and bare, coloured neck. Chicks are striped light and dark brown. Despite their weight, cassowaries can run at some 40mph and jump some 2 metres high.
Some sources class the Australian cassowary shown in most photos on this page as Johnson's Cassowary, a subspecies of the Southern Cassowary, but other authorities deny any valid subspecies.