Identification

It’s tricky to accurately estimate the age of a cassowary in the wild, but it is relatively easy to identify the life stage. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Chick

Newly hatched chicks (3-6 months old) are striped dark brown and creamy white.

Juvenile

         

After three to six months the stripes fade and the plumage changes to brown.

Sub-adult

As the young mature, the plumage darkens, the wattles and casque start to grow, and the neck and wattles begin to develop their striking colours.

Adult

         

Cassowaries are mature by about three years of age. Adult cassowaries can grow to 2m tall. The sexes are fairly similar in appearance, though females tend to be slightly larger and can weigh up to 76kg. Males can weigh up to 55kg, and have a slightly longer “skirt” (longer feathers at the rear, noticeable in the photo on the right) that helps to cover the eggs while brooding. An adult bird seen sitting on eggs, or accompanied by younger birds is very likely to be a male.

Photo credits: ARF, Deb Pople, DERM, DTMR, HCA, Liz Gallie, Tony Kennedy, WTMA.