Southern Cassowary

Sounds & Calls

Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius)

Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius)

The Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) is a huge flightless bird found in the wet tropics of Australia and in parts of Papua New Guinea.

What does a cassowary sound like? The call of the cassowary is one of the lowest frequency sounds made by any bird. More of a non-vocal sound than a ‘call’, cassowaries create this booming rumble from deep within. With head tilted down toward the ground, its whole body shudders as the sound is produced. While scientists are not sure exactly what internal mechanism creates the sound, it is clear from watching a cassowary that it uses its body as an amplifier in some way. When you hear this sound in the wild, you ‘feel’ the sound as it vibrates through the air. It sounds more like a noise made by a large mammal than a bird.

Going to as low as 24Hz, these deep calls are bordering on ‘infrasound’. Low-frequency sounds carry a significant distance and are no doubt an effective way for cassowaries to communicate in dense rainforest.

Listen to Southern Cassowary Calls

The audio in the video below is a compilation of various cassowary sounds I’ve recorded in Far North Queensland. To hear the cassowary’s deep vibrating booms in the example below, you’ll need decent speakers or headphones – speakers on a mobile device or laptop will likely not transmit these frequencies.

Northern Cassowary Call

The following video features the sound of a Northern Cassowary (Casuarius unappendiculatus) I recorded in New Guinea. Northern Cassowaries make a range of different calls and sounds which appear quite similar to the sounds of the Southern Cassowary. However they also make this striking mechanical rattle – a sound I have not heard documented from a Southern Cassowary.

Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius)

Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) crossing a road in Daintree National Park, Queensland.