Sunday, 12 June 2011

Cassowary!

No one has seen cassowaries in this block of rainforest for decades. There are tree kangaroos and green possums and all sorts of other charismatic megafauna, but no giant, fruit-eating birds.

Until now ...

I took these photos this afternoon at a neighbour's place, less than 300m from my block. Judging by the contents of the poo, this bird has been dining on lemon aspen (Acronychia) and Davidson's plum (Davidsonia), swallowed whole.

What a fantastic addition to the faunal list.

I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

A brief glimpse

Getting bolder

On parade

And the reason why you should never upset a cassowary ... sharp claws and a hell of a kick.

The business end

More info soon, but I'm just too excited to concentrate right now!

26 comments:

NanaJude said...

That is Fanbloodytastic Helix!

:)))

neomyrtus said...

Hansome critter - how do you determine a cassowary's gender? Nice to see it hoovering up fruity goodness in your part of the forest.

neomyrtus said...

oo - the 'd' fell off handsome.

Snail said...

Isn't it just, jj! This one has really been packing in the fruit. And there's a cauliflorus lillypilly coming into flower on that block, so he'll be well fed if he decides to stay.

I don't know how to tell them apart, Neo. This one was making booming noises all the time, so I'm guessing he was a male on the lookout for some girls. I must read more about them.

Binjy said...

How good is that!! :)))

Snail said...

Indeed! Hopefully he'll stick around for a while.

Mr. Smiley said...

Great. This is not the only siting of a cassowary after many years. There are places in Kuranda that now have resident birds after many years of absence.

What you need to do is to convince neighbours to keep all dogs on leads. They either get the cassowaries or the cassowaries will get them.

Yours looks like a young bird of 2 years or so.
Congratulations. Next the bubs!

DR

Snail said...

I hope this fella and the Kuranda ones represent a resurgence in the species.

We're letting people know about the bird, but I have a fairly pessimistic view of some of the dog owners here. Several tree kangaroos have been mauled to death and the dog owners remain unrepentant. :( Why do live in the rainforest?

This cassowary turned up only days after approval of a neighbouring development, which had been referred under the EPBC. We'll be informing the Feds on Tuesday. (If only he'd turned up earlier!)

Anthea Fleming said...

Congratulations! Very happy for you.
Saw a Davidson's Plum in a native plant sale today; label suggests you should make jam from fruit. Glad the cassowary has plenty.

Snail said...

Davidson's plum jam is delicious! One of the local dairies (Mungalli Creek) also puts it into their yoghurt. Definitely yum! But I'm happy for the cassowary to take 'em all.

forestwalk/laura k said...

what a BEAUTY!!
and i'm glad to hear i'm not the only one who looks at POO! ha!
AND...GREEN 'possums??!!

great shots!!

mick said...

Fantastic! I look forward to updates.

Snail said...

Laura, there's lots to find out from poo! And here's my green possum pic. The green is a mixture of grey and yellow fur.

Mick, I've got a bit more lined up --- mainly poo pics!

biobabbler said...

o m G! I CANNOT believe you a) SAW a cassowary, b) had a camera, c) practically DANCED with the fellow. Talk about steady eye contact!!!

Wow.

I, uh, mm... am gobsmacked. SO EXCITING and HAPPY for you and SO glad you had your camera, etc. He looked great!!

Jealous to the power 10. =) woo-hoo!

Sherrie Y said...

(sigh) You have the most wonderful adventures (and darn good luck, too)! Thanks for sharing such an unbelievably cool bird AND the contents of its poo.

Russell said...

Wow! What a great find. Never get any here.

Tyto Tony said...

Well done! The (bigger) girls chase the boys, force them to it, and bugger off straight after, leaving Dad to do all the rearing.

Snail said...

Biobabbler, I got a phone call and was summoned to bring the long lens! Luckily it was a fairly bright day, because light levels are otherwise very low. I still had to shoot at ISO800 in order to get a reasonable d.o.f.

And I'm still gobsmacked!

Snail said...

Sherrie, it's absolutely extraordinary luck! Never thought I'd see a cassowary in this little patch of forest, even after TC Yasi.

Snail said...

Russell, it was a heck of a surprise when I heard there was a cassowary around. I even wondered whether it was a mistaken identity at first --- although goodness knows what would be mistaken for a cassowary!

Snail said...

Tony, so maybe it's the females who call? Either way, this is likely to be lonely cassowary. Can't imagine there'd be more than one here.

Mike said...

Wow, what a sighting! You Aussies are made of stern stuff no doubt and I'm glad for it... here in the US, those dinosaur birds would have been exterminated long ago.

Snail said...

Mike, they're on their way out here too --- cars, dogs, development. I'm hoping this represents a local resurgence!

wildwings said...

Snail as Tony has saiod the female is the bigger. Foot print size is a bit of a guide. A male is usualy less than 210 mm long females get larger. This bird is alder than 2 years as they usualy fully colour after three years and this one did not look to have any brown in the body feathers. I doubt if it is lonely as long as there is forest connectivety of some degree it will find a partner. Congrats Allen

Snail said...

Allen, there is so much I don't know about cassowaries, but I am learning! After we got advice that s/he was a young 'un, someone else suggested that it was probably about 4. Your information definitely backs this up.

It's been raining here for a few days, so the ground is now wet enough for footprints, so we might be able to get some measurements.

What really surprised us about the cassowary is the lack of connectivity in the rainforest here. There's a small amount of riparian veg, but it is not extensive. And now a great big (approx 200 block) development is going ahead right next to the river, which won't make it any easier for the fauna! Fortunately, it will no doubt be years before the development is realised and the cassowary may have found greener pastures (so to speak!) by then.

Russell Constable said...

Great news !!! I would guestimate this bird as 2 to 3 years old and am so pleased that you have a local cassowary now! As adults the girls are bigger bossier critters...bit like humans I suppose...well the bossier bit I mean!