To: Birding-aus <>
Subject: Cassowaries
From: "Phil & Sue Gregory" <>
Date: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 12:23:41 +1000
Interesting times here in Kuranda. Our resident male Cassowary appeared with 2 
chicks on Aug 9, but sadly one of them died in mid-Sept, it always been the 
weaker of the two and became sick, dying overnight. It had an injury on its 
side and weighed just c. 1200g, having not eaten for several days prior. The 
surviving chick is doing well, nicely bossy  and busy chasing brushturkeys and 
Musky Rat-Kangaroos, now some 10 weeks old, and still very stripy.

We lost our big female Harriet back in May when she was struck by a speeding 
car on Black Mountain Road, the first adult bird to be killed here as far as we 
know and not surprising given how speed limits get ignored or are seen as 
targets, it is a notional 40km here through this core Cassowary area. An 
autopsy by our Kuranda Vet showed she had a gut infection and may have been 
dying anyway, perhaps she was unwell and was on the road because of this, as 
she was always really scared of traffic and would bolt at the sound of trucks 
or cars. She first appeared back in Sept 2013 and had a huge territorial fight 
with our long-standing resident female Missy, who has been here since 2000 when 
she herself replaced another female. Harriet chased her down beside the house, 
where Missy fell over and smashed a large flowerpot before being driven off, 
dramatic stuff that we definitely did not want to be in the way of!

Essentially Harriet then took over, with poor Missy sneaking in very rarely 
when she was away. Harriet was seen mating with our male, and we are pretty 
sure the chicks this year are from her as she was the dominant here then. Last 
year's chicks we are sure came from Missy, but sadly they only survived very 
briefly in November, disappearing when a pack of feral dingo x domestic dogs 
passed through.

As soon as Harriet was gone, Missy moved back in, literally the next day, and 
has been visiting several times a week ever since, including whilst the male 
was away incubating in June-July. The curious thing is that now she is looking 
as if she is ready to mate, her neck colour is very intense violet-blue which 
is a sign of breeding condition, and has been coming in when the male and his 
surviving chick appear. On Oct 15 we had the bizarre sight of the male sat down 
and the female attempting to climb on him to mate, something we had never seen 
before in our 16 years of observations of these birds.

Today we have a Korean film crew here, and the female came in whilst the male 
and his chick were here, and there was a brief mating episode when she sat down 
and basically invited the male to copulate. The timing is way off, as usually 
they mate in May-June, and the last thing we now want is for the male to 
perhaps abandon his chick and go incubate over the cyclone season, we shall 
have to wait and see what happens. We suspect that Missy did not mate earlier 
this year and is making up for lost time!

Phil Gregory

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