To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Cassowaries
From: Phil & Sue Gregory <>
Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2008 10:35:40 +1000
It's that time of the year again, and we have had two female Cassowaries coming around to inspect our venerable male, the usual one whom we call Missy, and a large one with a big casque and long wattles, who may actually be the notoriously bad tempered Auntie who moved away in 2000, she sure looks like it in the photos. The male abandoned the 3 chicks in late April, they were hatched in late October so that's slightly early, usually it's more like 8 months together. The 3 of them have stayed together for most of this time, and oddly the female Missy would often have them with her and wander off with them in tow. In 1999 a female actually raised the brood when the male abandoned them after a cyclone, so this is not unprecedented, but most years she becomes antagonistic to them and she and the male drive them off. This year the male is only slightly aggressive to them and we have had the group of 5 together quite often, with the male then wandering off. Now the chicks are separating off, and two are sticking together with one usually solo, and this means that quite soon we will not see them much more, as they disperse off after food. They are still quite vocal, we hear the juvenile piping calls when they come round, and yesterday the lone chick was forlornly giving the loud, rising' "pleeee" anxiety call, which brings the male running when they are small. We could hear the chick off in the forest about 100 m away at least, this is quite a sad time for us and we know them well and their chances of survival are small. One worry has ben the sighting of what looks like a dingo here, no doubt some cross-breed thing but nonetheless loose in the forest and potentially a threat to the chicks and the musky rat-kangaroos, though a few less brush-turkeys wouldn't come amiss. Yesterday Jun 11 one of our guests saw the male and female mating in the forest, the female sat down and the male mounting on top, digging his feet into her flanks- she is often quite scarred at this time. Mating time was about a minute, which seems right, and he was very circumspect, taking care not to disturb them. We sometimes see them mating on the lawn here but I have not yet got any photos, though our lucky guest is on assignment from National Geographic and he did get some obscured shots yesterday The male will disappear quite soon for about 3 months, last year he went in late July and was back late Oct. so it may be earlier this year. The female is generally about, and it will be interesting to see what happens with the chicks, if they can survive till the male goes on the nest then they may have a shot at being here undisturbed a while longer, though watch out when he comes back wih the new chicks and is all hyped up!

Phil Gregory


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