The Curious case of the Cassowary Call

To: "Arwen B. Ximenes" <>, Guy Gibbon <>
Subject: The Curious case of the Cassowary Call
From: Phil & Sue Gregory <>
Date: Tue, 19 Mar 2013 15:31:19 +1000
Thanks to everyone for their helpful suggestions, I am currently in position on my veranda at Cassowary House, Kuranda hoping the resting male below will call again, but probably not as its mid-afternoon and this seems to be a morning only call this breeding cycle.

 I was about 5m away from the bird when I made the initial recording, and above him on the veranda, but he was facing away. It is a very low note, with a strange throbbing quality that you can actually feel as vibrations, I think it must travel a long way through the forest, a bit like the infrasonics of some large whales which travel huge distances in the ocean. I believe the main issue is the poor quality speakers on the Macbook, the xenocanto guys did a sonagram that shows there is a call there, and Vicki Powys from the Australian Wildlife Sound Recording Group was able to extract a version that did play back on my Mac- many thanks Vicki.

I did just get to record the juvenile alarm call, the piercing, rising shrill note that summons the parent quicksmart if he is in earshot, so that was pleasing. I will persist in the mornings with the male and hope for a better version, but at least it got documented. A Japanese TV crew here last year got a very nice sequence of him calling which was in their DVD, it took many hours of tracking to get it and they were lucky.

Phil Gregory

On 19/03/2013, at 12:52 PM, Arwen B. Ximenes wrote:

Hi Phil,

Would it help to test it out with playback so you're in a better position next time? You could work out just how accurately you need to point the mike to the sound source?


> From: 
> Date: Sun, 17 Mar 2013 12:56:14 +1000
> To: m("","andrewt");">
> CC: m("","birding-aus");">
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] The Curious case of the Cassowary Call
> Thanks Andrew, it's an old model Sennheiser ME 66 and I don't think it has any bass cut off features, there don't seem to be any on the Marantz PMD 113 either. I had it pointing right at him when he called, but he was unfortunately facing away, that might be the issue I guess, I'll have to try again if I get chance
> Regards
> Phil
> Field Guides / Sicklebill Safaris / Cassowary House / Cassowary Tours
> P.O. Box 387
> Kuranda
> QLD, 4881 
> Australia
> Phone: +61 (0)7 4093 7318
> Fax: +61 (0)7 4093 9855
> Email: m("","info");">
> Website 1: Http://
> Website 2: Http://
> On 17/03/2013, at 12:26 PM, Andrew Taylor wrote:
> > On Sun, Mar 17, 2013 at 11:43:34AM +1000, Phil & Sue Gregory wrote:
> >> 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 impossible?
> > 
> > Hi Phil,
> > Does your recorder have a high pass (low cut) filter?
> > 
> > For example my LS10 has a 100hz low cut filter which
> > would remove a cassowary call if not switched off.
> > 
> > You might also find the ME66 much more directional at
> > Cassowary frequencies and has to be carefully pointed at the bird
> > 
> > Andrew
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