Cassowaries again

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Cassowaries again
From: Phil & Sue Gregory <>
Date: Sun, 15 Jun 2008 12:32:54 +1000
Cassowary House, Kuranda, Far North Queensland

Some strange Cassowary behaviours still going on, with the chicks still associating with the female, two of them coming in with her again this morning. A single chick was here yesterday and the pair of adult birds attempted to mate below our veranda, but I think the peeping of the chick may have put them off as the male went to drive it away. The chick then sat down in a bed of gingers and put its head down so low as to appear almost neckless, which seemed to be a submission posture as the male just gave it a couple of cursory pecks and then left it alone.I It stayed sat in this odd pose for about 20 minutes, the male sometimes coming back as it peeped softly, but each time leaving it alone after brief pecks. The female meantime totally ignored the chick. I had not noted this submission posture before in 10 years of observations of these birds. though Sue has seen it quite often, sometimes with the chick's head flat along the ground.

Today the male was here poking about, and a Brush-turkey began pecking amongst his drooping rear feathers, presumably after insects or ticks maybe. The chicks sometimes do this, but I was surprised the male tolerated this presumptuous behaviour from a Brush-turkey as usually they get short shrift if they are too close.

White-eared Monarch is calling well below the house along the stream valley, there are loads of Barred Cuckoo-shrikes about, but few fig- parrots. Black Butcherbirds have been coming in most days, but today just after they arrived something spooked one of them and it gave the loud quite gruff "kor kor kor" alarm note, which made both of them shoot off immediately, clearly a very effective warning call.

Phil Gregory

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