Cassowary breeding season

Male cassowary and chick, Photo: Tony Kennedy

Male cassowary and chick, Photo: Tony Kennedy

It’s cassowary breeding season and time to watch out for young chicks wandering around with dad. Some of the messages we want local communities to heed are:

  • Some fathers are still sitting on eggs and are vulnerable to dogs. Please keep dogs restrained and report any dogs roaming in cassowary territory to the local council.
  • Please don’t feed young chicks and allow them to develop bad habits. These habits can become more dangerous for cassowaries and people as they mature and become more aggressive and dominant.
  • Keep an extra eye out on the road because the chicks may be trailing behind the adult father.
  • There may also be a few young adults around looking for territory and still getting used to being on their own. They too are vulnerable to dogs and traffic.
  • Recent road crossing hotspots on the Cassowary Coast include Flying Fish Point, Mourilyan Harbour, Etty Bay Road, Jubilee Road, Bramston Beach Road, Coquette Point Road, Tully-Mission Beach Road, and Alexander Drive, and Mission Beach.
Sub-adult cassowary crossing the road, Photo: Deb Pople

Sub-adult cassowary crossing the road, Photo: Deb Pople


Karl the Cassowary

Karl the Cassowary

Cassowary crossing the road at Mission Beach (Photo: Geoff Larson)

Paul Webster has released his new song, Karl the Cassowary, to highlight the plight of the endangered southern cassowary, in particular those that are wandering along roadsides.

Have a listen to Karl the Cassowary and look up other cassowary TV videos on You Tube. See the lyrics below.


Karl the Cassowary (lyrics)

I’ve no more time to wait for my redemption
So I popped my head up roadside to get all your attention
I’ve got three chicks and a track well worn
You may have seen me on Kuranda Range just around dawn

Big as a man blue, black & red
I got a great big horn in the middle of my head
My name’s Karl but friends all call me horny
It’s so scary being the last southern cassowary
If you don’t treat us fairly you won’t even see us rarely
Standing on the side of the road with my three little chicks in tow

I’m a single dad with three chickadees
Keystone species of the jungle I spread round all the seeds
I like figs and plums and candlenuts
When it comes to quandong I just can’t get enough


If you don’t want me to go the way of the Commodore
Why don’t you build me & the kids a wildlife corridor
Took most of my land with your big bulldozer
Now what’s the plan, simply run us all over?

It’s so scary being the last southern cassowary
If you don’t treat us fairly you won’t even see us rarely
Standing on the side of the road I got nowhere else to go
Standing on the side of the road. Well where’s a cassowary to go?

Cassowary capture, tagging and tracking

Attachment of a GPS data logger

Attachment of a GPS data logger

The Australian Veterinary Journal has published a paper on successful methods for cassowary immobilisation, restraint, transport and satellite tracking. The paper outlines the use of anaesthetics for safe handling of adult and juvenile cassowaries taken into captivity and released back into the wild.

The paper also details safe ways to transport cassowaries and to attach satellite trackers to monitor their movements after release back into their natural environment. Monitoring indicates that the released cassowaries suffered no behavioural ill-effects from the chemical immobilisation, restraint or transport.

 The cross marks the spot for needle entry for the anaesthetic.

The cross marks the spot for needle entry for the anaesthetic.

This is one of the first studies to use satellite telemetry to monitor the movements of a free-ranging large ratite. Future monitoring of released cassowaries can help to tell us a lot about their movements and behaviour. Longer term satellite studies are required to assess if the birds successfully locate and establish a home range and develop into breeding adults.

The authors of the study are Hamish Campbell (UNE), Ross Dwyer (UQ), Scott Sullivan (QPWS), Dan Mead (QPWS) and Graham Lauridsen (Tropical Vet Services, Tully).


You can download a copy of the paper below:

Chemical immobilisation and satellite tagging of free-living southern cassowaries



Cassowaries get their kicks on Lot 66

Opening of Lot 66 Mission Beach (photo Jeff Larson)

Peter Trott, Hon Peter Garrett MP, Leonard Andy, Peter Rowles and Dr Helen Larson celebrate the purchase of Lot 66 (photo Jeff Larson).

Thanks to the efforts on local conservationists at Mission Beach, cassowaries can now enjoy wandering through a 25ha block near Wongaling Beach safe in the knowledge that it is protected as a part of a local wildlife corridor.

The Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation (C4) and the Queensland Trust for Nature (QTFN) have worked together to purchase the property known as Lot 66, a popular area of  cassowary  habitat. Together with the adjacent Lot 802 which the local council has designated a wildlife corridor to be managed by the the Djiru Warangburra Aboriginal Corporation, Lot 66 forms part of an important wildlife corridor from the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area to the coast.

Lot 66 will be surveyed, its condition improved  and a suitable house site designated before it is resold as a Nature Refuge.

You can read all the details of how Lot 66 was purchased on the C4 webpage and in the link to the special bulletin about Lot 66.

Senator Peter Garrett at the opening of Lot 66 (photo Jeff Larson)

Hon Peter Garrett MP at the opening of Lot 66 (photo Jeff Larson)


How to identify a cassowary









Ever wondered how to recognise individual cassowaries?

Do you know about different cassowary casques, wattles, skirts, beaks, necks and feet?

Can you identify chicks, juveniles and sub-adults?

Kuranda Conservation has put together a wonderful page full of pictures and hints to help you identify individual cassowaries.

The cassowary identification project aims to record all the cassowaries in the Kuranda region and to follow their movements and behaviour. This includes where they cross roads and where juveniles disperse.

All photos courtesy of Kuranda Conservation.