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Ostrich vs Cassowary: The Flightless Bird Battle!

Birding Battle of the Ages: Ostrich vs Cassowary

Bird watching is an incredibly popular past time, and there is a certain fascination with the birds that cannot fly, or the flightless birds. As part of this fascination, many people compare the two heaviest flightless birds, the Ostrich and the Cassowary. But how do these two birds compare, and which one is the more impressive?


Ostriches are the world’s largest flightless bird, and adult’s average around 8-9 feet in height and can weigh up to 300 lbs. They have long, bare grey legs, long necks and white or grey feathers. Their eggs are the largest in the world, with individual eggs can be up to 8 inches in length and weighing around 3 lbs each. Two of their main characteristics are their incredibly long eyelashes and their three-toed feet.

Cassowaries, on the other hand, are the second-largest flightless birds in the world. They average around 4-6 feet in height and can weigh over 60kg. They have black feathers with bright blue and purple highlights, and they have a casque (a helmet-like headpiece) that grows on the top of their heads as they age. They also have three-toed feet like ostriches, but their feet are equipped with long, sharp claws for protection.


Ostriches can be found in the wild in parts of Africa, South and Southwest Asia, and the Arabian Peninsula, but are also found in many places around the world as domesticated animals in ostrich farms.

Cassowaries, on the other hand, are much more elusive and found only in northern Australia and New Guinea. They are quite shy and tend to stay away from humans, so whilst it is possible to find them in the wild, it is difficult.

Diet and Subsistence

The diet and subsistence habits of the two birds differ drastically. Ostriches are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plants and animals, usually insects, roots, leaves, and occasionally small mammals or reptiles.

Cassowaries, on the other hand, are fairly picky eaters, preferring fruits and vegetables such as berries and seeds. They also occasionally hunt small birds and reptiles, but mostly for food that is already dead.

Ostrich vs Cassowary: The Flightless Bird Battle! two

Life Span

The average lifespan of an ostrich in the wild is between 10 and 30 years, depending on the environment in which it lives. In captivity, however, ostriches can live between 40 and 50 years.

The average life expectancy of a cassowary is slightly shorter at 25 to 30 years in the wild and up to 40 years in captivity. For both birds, their life expectancy can be greatly affected by their living conditions and predators.


Ostriches are the fastest flightless bird on the planet and can run at speeds of up to 43 mph. They are also incredibly agile and can turn on a dime.

Cassowaries are no slouches either when it comes to speed. They can run up to 31 mph and are able to swim in short bursts of up to 8 mph.


Both Ostrich and Cassowary are incredible birds and have a lot to offer for those interested in birding. Both birds may be flightless, but their abilities on land make them fascinating creatures to observe. Although the Ostrich may win in terms of size and speed, the Cassowary is no slouch when it comes to agility and can also swim in short bursts. Ultimately both have a lot to offer to the birdwatching enthusiast and they each bring a unique perspective on birding.

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