Family Cassowaries, Emus (Casuariidae)

Least Concern

Dwarf Cassowary (Casuarius bennetti)


French: Casoar de Bennett German: Bennettkasuar Spanish: Casuario menor
Other common names: Bennett's Cassowary, Westermann's Cassowary (westermanni)

Casuarius Bennetti


, 1857,

#RNew Britain


Race westermanni recently resurrected on basis of constant presence of distinctive large whitish occipital patch on birds from Vogelkop (and not apparently elsewhere in range), backed up by differences in mtDNA#R; indeed, this form has been considered a full species#R, under name “C. papuanus”, with a race edwardsi; type specimen of “papuanus” does not show white occiput, whereas that of “westermanni” does, as does original painting of the same live individual#R, and in any case name “westermanni” has priority; type locality of “papuanus” has been questioned. In the past, seven races (papuanus, goodfellowi, claudii, shawmayeri, hecki, bennetti and picticollis) or more were commonly recognized; however, extensive individual variation, together with confusion due to numerous and widespread introductions over centuries, and paucity of museum specimens and of reliable data on bare-part colours of known adults, all combine to confound attempts at building accurate picture of true geographical variation#R. Even type locality of present species is thought to refer to an introduced population. Two subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. b. westermanni#R P. L. Sclater, 1874 – Vogelkop.
  • C. b. bennetti#R Gould, 1857 – upland New Guinea from Weyland Mts E to Owen Stanley Range; Yapen I (in Geelvink Bay).
  • Also New Britain (bennetti), where probably introduced.

    Descriptive notes

    100–110 cm; 17·6 kg. Smallest member of genus. Adult is distinctive, with triangular-shaped casque flattened posteriorly, and thick, powerful legs and feet with... read more


    Low booming sound; also short low piping, at higher intensity becoming higher-pitched and finally... read more


    Forest and secondary growth in hills and mountains, to 3300 m, occasionally to tree-line at 3600 m... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly fallen fruit; also fungi, invertebrates and small vertebrates. In one study, seeds of at least 97 plant species (in 33 families)... read more


    Recorded in both dry and wet seasons; Feb–Apr in NW (Vogelkop). Nest a shallow depression on ground, lined with leaves, twigs and the... read more


    Presumably sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally scarce; locally common in NE New Guinea. Rare or absent in many areas as a result of hunting pressure, which has increased... read more

    Recommended citation

    Folch, A., Christie, D.A., Jutglar, F., Garcia, E.F.J. & Sharpe, C.J. (2019). Dwarf Cassowary (Casuarius bennetti). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 24 May 2019).