The Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius johnsonii) is native to Australia and it is our heaviest flightless bird; the emu is taller. Sadly, this magnificent animal is classified as Endangered under Federal legislation.
As such, it is always a rare treat to see a cassowary in the wild. There are many locations throughout Hinchinbrook where cassowaries can be found roaming in their natural habitat. Though they are a large bird, they can be very difficult to spot among the trees.
If you don’t see a cassowary, you may hear its distinctive low frequency sound called a ‘boom’. The boom is the lowest bird call of any bird.
The ‘bump’ on a cassowary’s head is called a casque. Its purpose is unknown but it has been suggested that it may act as a kind of helmet as the bird runs through the rainforest as the casque is hard on the outside and sponge-like on the inside, much like a bike helmet. It may also assist a bird to hear the ‘boom’ of other birds. As the casque grows throughout the animal’s life, it can help to determine the age of the bird.
Females have a taller casque and, unlike most birds, the females are more brightly coloured than the males. Three to five young are raised by the male each year.
It is important not to feed cassowaries as they are a large bird and they can become aggressive if they feel threatened. A kick with their legs can cause serious injury.
If you see a cassowary injured, in distress, or an orphaned chick please call the Cassowary Recovery Team’s 24 hotline on 1300 130 372. The call may go to an answering machine if the duty ranger is attending to another matter, but it is important to provide as much detail as possible including location, time, circumstances and your contact details so rangers can contact you if they need further information.