The Curious case of the Cassowary Call

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: The Curious case of the Cassowary Call
From: Phil & Sue Gregory <>
Date: Sun, 17 Mar 2013 11:43:34 +1000
This is the time of year when the Cassowary chicks here along Black Mountain 
Road  at Kuranda are well grown at 5+ months old, and still following the 
parent around, guzzling food voraciously (and not letting him get any much of 
the time!) They come in more or less daily, but at no set time, the last two 
days was late afternoon, today it was 0830, so somewhat unpredictable. The 
chicks have the high-pitched peeping notes which they give much of the time- 
see my recording on xenocanto, or if one gets mislaid there is a shrill, rising 
"peeeep"  distress call which is guaranteed to galvanize the male who comes 
looking for it at once.

Over the past few days I spent several hours trying to tape the deep infrasonic 
3 or 4 syllabled "departure call" of our male Cassowary, which he gives once or 
maybe twice each visit, over a couple of hours stay, and only in the mornings 
oddly enough.  He bows his head and fluffs out the neck and back feathers to 
give this very deep rolling grunt, which you can feel in the pit of your 
stomach. I finally got it this morning, with him just below me off our veranda, 
but when I play back the ME 66 Sennheiser mike does not seem to have picked it 
up! Very disappointing and I don't know what to do about it. I had the 
recording levels set to high and this seems fine for the Yellow-spotted 
Honeyeater at the end of the cut, but these deep tones are maybe going to be 

I will have to try again with the levels set lower, but I fear my mike is not 
up to the job, and this is a really hard call to record as it's given so 
infrequently, and you have to contend with extraneous noises, OK if it's a bird 
but not so good if a motorbike, phone or a dog!
Phil Gregory

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