Sunday, 18 November 2007

Cassowary Babies 2007



CASSOWARY CAPERS

Late in the afternoon of 15 Nov. I glimpsed a black image out of the corner of my eye as it walked past the door of my house. A week or so prior I had seen a very, old female Cassowary on the premises but it was with surprise and delight to discover our resident male with 3 young of the year. They must have been very recent hatchlings as they were tiny-about the size or slightly smaller than the average bantam. They seemed to be on their maiden walk and totally unfamiliar with their environment. In fact, they probably had not eaten before as the male had to show them food and coax them to try and eat it. The chicks have a distinct colour pattern that will change in time. In the 5 years that we have been here, we have not seen him mature 3 young. There must be some calamities—predators, accidents, parasites, which take their toll. The incredible size disparity between the male and the chicks suggests that a misplaced foot could easily crush one of the babies. On the other hand, it is touching to see how gentle he is with his young. The male will look after these young himself for many months. He usually leaves them to their own devices the following August. I’ll keep you posted as I expect them to be daily visitors over the next few months.

3 comments:

Camera Trap Codger said...

Cool! I've had a hypothesis about the immature plumage of ratites. I predict that they molt to their adult plumage when they can outrun their predators. Until then they should rely on parental defense and hiding, and their disruptive (striped watermelon) plumage should serve them well. Here's what you should do to test the hypothesis. Get the male to chase you every two weeks, and have Barbara time the little guys with a stopwatch as they follow pop and run a measured course? You can be the first author of the resulting publication.

Mr. Smiley said...

Very funny. I couldn't outrun the bubs even at this stage!

Mr Somewhat Smiley

theidlerich said...

What Mr. Smiley might do to some useful purpose is to date stage the chick plumage development. It has been done before - I did it myself - but not very consequently. One set of accurate data would be useful - and you can be sole author!