Cassowary, a large, flightless bird related to the emu and ostrich. It inhabits rain forests in New Guinea, Australia, and nearby islands. The cassowary grows to five feet (1.5 m) in height and 120 pounds (54 kg) in weight. The head is topped by a leathery helmet-like projection of skin called a casque. The head and neck are bare of feathers and range in color from iridescent blue to dark red. The stout body is covered by shiny black plumes 3 to 14 inches (8 to 36 cm) long. There are five or six stiff quills on each wing. The Australian (or double-wattled) cassowary has two wattles hanging from its throat; the single-wattled cassowary has one wattle; Bennett’s cassowary has no wattles.
Cassowaries feed on fruit, nuts, insects, and the eggs of other birds. The female lays three to six green eggs in a shallow depression in the ground. The male incubates the eggs and raises the young.
The Australian cassowary is Casuarius casuarius; single-wattled, C. unappendiculatus; Bennett’s, C. bennetti. They belong to the family Casuariidae.