The Cassowaries

Similar to their emu cousins ​​but definitely more colorful, the Cassowaries are unique flightless birds that belong to the Ratites, one of the most ancient bird species in the world, presumed to exist since 65 millions ago.

Its unique look make them hard to confuse, thanks to its incredible black shining feathered body, its bright blue neck with two red wattles and a big corned head with a casque. They are the third largest bird species in the world, measuring up to 6.6 ft tall (2 m) and weighting as much as 132 pounds (60 kg).

What makes this bird so different is not just its look, but its behavior, as it is the male cassowary the one that hatches and raises the eggs and chicks, while the females are just looking around for more partners to copulate with. They are also responsible for a big part of seed spread in the Wet Tropics, as their diet includes over 240 species of fruits, some of which rely on the cassowary to spread. (If you didn’t figure it out yet, they do this by eating the fruit with its seed and later excreting them around the rainforest)

It is presumed that is only about 4000 cassowaries left in the wild. There are three species of Cassowaries, all of the native to the tropical forest of southeast Asia and Australia.

Where to see cassowaries in the wild:

Cassowaries can be seen in the wild around the rainforest, especially in Australia. There is a good chance you can spot a couple in the Girringun National Park, Barron Falls National Park, Daintree Region and Cape Tribulation, as well as the “cassowary coast”, one of the most famous places to see them, comprised by Etty bay, Bungalow bay and Mission beach. This area is home to an estimated 100 resident wild cassowaries. Check the small wooded area on Etty Bay and you would most likely see one!

They are most often encountered on roads and tracks in the morning or afternoon, when they are looking for food or shelter.

Although you can see them all year round, you have a better chance to see them in summer, when the chicks start to look for their own food under dad’s supervision.

Don’t let their interesting look fool you, they are considered one of the most dangerous birds in the world. Although they are not trouble makers and would rarely attack a human, they are very territorial and often called cranky, especially if they have their chicks around.

It is recommended that you keep your distance if you spot one, and or walk slowly and quietly to avoid their attention. Cassowaries can inflict serious injuries if you make them feel threatened, thanks to their three claw — tipped toes.