Monday, May 19, 2008

Hanging out with the Cassowaries

A highlight of my first trip to Cape Trib in January was several cassowary sightings. These spectacular, big, colourful birds are rare and endangered and not every visitor is lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them stalking deliberately through the forest. I felt very lucky in January, and now, staying at the Rainforest Hideaway I am lucky again.
A family of cassowaries are almost daily visitors here, coming right up to the veranda, which is raised high about their heads, creating a sense of mutual safety and separation between bird and human.

These photos are of the slightly larger female, who spent about 15 minutes hanging out with me late one afternoon when I was here alone. She sat down by the steps and started grooming in a very relaxed manner, allowing me lots of time to take photos of her amazing colours on the skin and feathers of her neck and head, the texture of her hard crest (which is apparently spongey on the inside of the hard covering) and her enormous feet and talons.

Shortly after she stood up and stalked off, a group of guests arrived just in time to see the Papa Cassowary come to visit with his two little chicks. Little is a relative term as they are the size of 10 year old human children. They made a soft high whistling noise as they scratched around on the forest floor while Papa kept a keen eye on the humans standing around frantically snapping photographs.


Carol said...

Your blog is an education for Australians, Meliors. Those are wonderful photos of the female cassowary and I especially like the one of the grooming in motion. What magnificent colours!

Tim Jones said...

I love the photos too, but what really strikes me is the second one - the legs and claws. The dinosaur resemblance is striking: the cassowary, just escaped from Jurassic Park.

Meliors Simms said...

Yes they are very prehistoric, but mostly I think about moa when I see cassowaries. And kiwis, their close living relations. Both species have males as the primary egg and chick nurturer.
As for dinosurs, I saw my first goanna this morning. Including long whip-like tail it was about 150cm long. Amazing!