The female cassowary can be distinguished from the male by her larger size, more vibrant colours around her head and neck and a larger casque, the helmet-like structure on top of the head. This is one of the few birds that should be considered dangerous to humans because its powerful legs can deliver a tremendous kick, while the sharp claw on the middle toe is capable of causing severe lacerations. Adult birds can reach 2m in height.
As tropical rainforest inhabitants, the destruction of these forests has greatly reduced the cassowary’s habitat. Today it is restricted to the rainforests in north eastern Queensland.
The Cassowary eats jungle fruits, shoots and miscellaneous vegetable matter. Its manner of feeding is to toss the food into the air and swallow it in one gulp. Many rainforest trees are reliant on this bird to eat and disperse their seeds, many of which will only germinate after they have passed through the cassowary’s gut.
The male incubates the three to four eggs, which are light green in colour and rough on the outside. Incubation lasts for around two months and the male rarely eats during this period. The nest is made up of sticks, leaves and other forest debris. The breeding season is usually confined to June and October.