Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Cassowary, any bird of the Ratite genus Casuarius (with nine species, eight of which are found in the islands from Ceram to New Britain, and one in North Australia), forming with the emu the family Casuariidae. These birds are closely allied to the Rhea (q.v.), and are most abundant in the Papuan Islands. The cassowary stands about five feet high, and resembles the ostrich in general appearance, though the neck is much shorter. The head bears a horny casque or helmet, and, like the neck, is naked. Pendent wattles are present, generally brilliantly coloured, as is the skin to which they are attached. The wings are rudimentary, each with five quills; the aftershaft of the dusky body-feathers is very long, so that these appear to be double, and the general character of the plumage is hair-like. The legs are very muscular, each with three toes, the inner one of which is armed with a long sharp claw. These birds - which usually live in pairs in wooded country - run and leap well, and, when attacked, kick violently forward, or use their short strong wings as weapons of defence. The eggs are few in number, green in colour, and the male takes part in incubation.