Cassowary - North Queensland

Southern Cassowary on north Queensland coast, south of Cairns
Adult female Cassowary 'July'

Conversation with Yvonne about the wild cassowaries that visit her plant nursery near the Moresby Range National Park, Queensland.

Listen to this conversation with Yvonne  CLICK HERE



A few weeks ago I recorded a conversation with Yvonne Cunningham on the Cassowary Coast, near the Moresby Range National Park, North Queensland. Yvonne is the owner of Violets & Lace plant nursery at Coquette Point just outside Innisfail, but she's also a passionate conservationist. View her blog.


The southern cassowary is a ratite, a large flightless bird with unusual feathers. It's a striking bird with glossy black plumage, the adult has a tall, brown casque (helmet) on top of its head, a vivid blue and purple neck, long drooping red wattles and amber eyes. It's an amazing bird with adults reaching 2 metres high. Sadly they're endangered. Their main threats are habitat destruction, dogs, feral pigs and the motor car. They're usually shy but not at Yvonne's nursery.  I was having a cup of tea with her on her outside seating area when she was called away to serve a customer, I heard footsteps on the gravel and assumed that she was returning, turning around, less than 1 metre away I came face to face with an adult 2 metre high cassowary.  We then saw a very interesting mating ritual in the driveway as a male also turned up.


To listen to Yvonne's description of what happened next, CLICK HERE.


Yvonne was talking about the cassowaries that visit her nursery, she's so obviously passionate about these magnificent birds.


Many people have an emotional response when they come into contact with wildlife especially it seems with larger animals – it's a re-connection with the natural world, that has been lost with urban living.  This is certainly the case with cassowaries and for me when I looked a cassowary in the eye I clearly saw its evolutionary ancestry back to the dinosaurs.  It's not just the individual bird you see though, it's also the reproductive potential of all its future descendants.  That is if it survives!   Sadly estimates put the total population of Southern Cassowary in Queensland as only 1200.  So if you're in Cassowary country, slow down when you're driving and think of all the future generations of cassowaries that would be lost if you unfortunately hit one.  If you are building think of habitat protection and the creation of wildlife corridors.  If you have feral pigs on your land try to eradicate them.  Control your dogs.  Every little helps in the conservation of an endangered species.


And if you are lucky enough to see a cassowary in the wild, you're in for a treat – they are spectacular birds.




Southern Cassowary





Cassowary named 'July' arriving out of the rain forest adjacent to the plant nursery.


















Yvonne and 'July'
Yvonne and 'July'




 Cassowaries are usually shy, but seemingly not here.  




Whilst visiting nearby Etty Bay in the Moresby Range National Park, I had another close encounter of a cassowary kind.  Just about to pull away in the car this cassowary turned up, looked in all the windows and then casually walked away onto the beach.  Just curious or perhaps admiring its own reflection!

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