Oh hello – you magnificent bird!

The sound of Allen chatting quietly in our bathroom last Sunday morning alerted me to the visit of a cassowary. While this may seem odd, he doesn’t usually talk to himself and he has a particular tone he uses when talking to cassowaries.

Such an amazing sight – right outside the bathroom.

I was astonished to see the size of this bird standing just a few metres away on the lawn – definitely a different, older bird compared to our most recent visiting cassowary. As we stepped outside to take some photos she walked towards us, so we stood still and continued talking quietly. She emphasized her size by stretching upwards and gave a short rumble before moving away slightly to look around.

I just couldn’t take my eyes off the size of her legs and feet!
For reference, the pavers are 400mm x 400mm.

She is a mature bird but not very old judging by the size of the casque. We believe that the size of her feet identifies her as female. We wondered if she may have chased off the younger cassowary but later in the afternoon the younger cassowary appeared again. Our domestic chooks who had been pecking around in front of the verandah suddenly took off in fright as the younger cassowary strolled past on the lawn.

The younger cassowary which Allen now thinks is a male, due to the slightly drooping tail feathers seen here so beautifully displayed.

The next morning, washing dishes and occasionally casting my gaze around outside I thought perhaps all the action was over for the moment but a few minutes later the younger of the two birds approached the other side of the house. As I greeted it with ‘there you are…’ it briefly stepped onto the verandah, then turned to check a wind chime for edibility before walking off downhill.

The next day we left early for Cairns leaving the chooks locked up in their secure pen with extra greens for the day, as Allen thought the python sunning near the outdoor enclosure was a little close for comfort.

Amethystine python basking in the morning light and showing some amethyst colours.

Probably the same python which caused a night-time disturbance recently. I was in our outside shower when one of the chooks started screaming so grabbing my glasses and some sandals I took off after Allen who had sensibly grabbed a torch. We both expected to find a chook being strangled by a python. There was a python but it was on the floor of the shed with a mouthful of feathers and a furious Layla (our blue egger) standing next to it still screaming and giving it an occasional peck! Allen opened the door and ‘encouraged’ the snake to leave but it took quite some effort to persuade it to move on. The snake had made a hole in some rusty wire which was repaired by Allen the following day.

Anyway…….. back to cassowaries. Daily sightings of at least one bird continued for the week. We’ve been pondering what fruit is attracting them. A couple of weeks ago Allen identified Ficus hispida in a scat but in recent days we have noticed both birds have very muddy legs and feet. As the Nauclea orientalis (Leichhardt trees) are fruiting we think both birds have been in the swampy areas. This theory is also supported by the tracks they are using.

Strolling across our front lawn with fresh mud on her legs and a cloud of mozzies on the black feathers.

On Friday afternoon Allen walked down to the bird hide just to check out the pond scene. All fairly quiet but he did spy the young cassowary on the bund wall and with a ‘oh there you are’ he took a few photos. Hearing footsteps a few minutes later he opened the door of the hide thinking I had come to join him but it was the young cassowary standing half-way down the stone steps just wanting to see what was happening.

Just standing around preening and wondering what’s happening next.
We treat these birds with respect and it feels like it’s a mutual arrangement. Allen took this lovely portrait.

What a wonderful week it has been, with so many special moments worth recording. We have constant reminders that we form only a very small part of the big picture and we need to do our best to fit in.

2 responses to “Oh hello – you magnificent bird!

  1. Good Morning Barbara,

    Thank you so much for your latest email. I always marvel at the incredible wildlife at your sanctuary. I watched a short clip last night devoted to Cassowaries and then this morning read about your encounters for the week. I must say your story is far more interesting. My one and only time of seeing a Cassowary with a young one was when we visited Daintree a few years ago when we visited your property. We were driving back from Cape Tribulation when we saw the two on the side of the road and got some photos from the car. For you to be at such close quarters, eye to eye, must have been such a thrill!

    I have been off the radar for a while as I have been caring for my sister, along with her two children, as she battled bone cancer from August last year. Tragically she contracted Omicron whilst at Southern Cross Care in respite. She was isolated for 3 weeks and only her daughter was allowed to visit her twice in that time. All we could do at that stage was speak on the phone. She tragically passed away on 22nd January with only her two children allowed to be with her. She was my little sister, only aged 71 years. Before she passed away she said to me “get back as quickly as possible to the bush and keep on doing what you love most”. I shall do this but still struggling with losing her.

    We plan to do some more travelling and hopefully Daintree again. Colin turned 80 in December and is doing well despite he has been diabetic for 20 years. He keeps as fit as possible and as soon as we get back to our photography and nature watching again we will both improve mentally and physically I am sure.

    Hope you both keep fit and well to be able to continue your passion and caring of your wonderful sanctuary.

    Kind regards

    Kay.

    • Lovely to hear from you Kay but we’re so sorry to hear of your sister’s death. It’s good to know that you and Colin are thinking of
      travelling so perhaps we’ll see you again in Daintree. Thank you for your kind comments, I’m glad you enjoy reading about our wildlife encounters.

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