Family Cassowaries, Emus (Casuariidae)

Least Concern

Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius)


French: Casoar à casque German: Helmkasuar Spanish: Casuario común
Other common names: Two-wattled Cassowary

Struthio Casuarius


, 1758,



In the past, eight races (casuarius, tricarunculatus, bistriatus, lateralis, sclaterii, johnsonii, aruensis and bicarunculatus) 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 adult birds, all combine to confound attempts at building accurate picture of true geographical variation#R. Even type locality of this species is thought to refer to an introduced population. Monotypic.


Lowlands of New Guinea except watershed between Vogelkop and Huon Peninsula; Aru Is; NE Australia (two isolated populations in NE Queensland); also Seram, where probably introduced.

Descriptive notes

130–170 cm; male 29–34 kg, female 58 kg. Adult is distinctive, with prominent laterally compressed casque on crown, two wattles on foreneck, and thick, powerful... read more


Gives “boo-boo-boo” calls, most frequently at start of breeding season, especially... read more


In New Guinea typically in rainforest at moderate altitude, but also in gallery forest, swamp-... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly fallen fruit, especially those of families Lauraceae, Myrtaceae, Elaeocarpaceae and palms (Arecaceae); also some fungi,... read more


Most data from Australia. Season Jun–Oct in Queensland; starts end of dry season in New Guinea. Solitary nester, with large territory... read more


Presumably sedentary, with some evidence of irregular nomadic movements, especially in disturbed... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Believed to have suffered rapid decline in Australia since c. 1970, and similar declines may have occurred elsewhere in range; local... read more

Recommended citation

Folch, A., Christie, D.A., Jutglar, F., Garcia, E.F.J. & Sharpe, C.J. (2019). Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius). 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 7 December 2019).