Three chicks released from Garners Beach

One of the young birds recently released Photo: Graham Lauridsen

One of the young birds recently released Photo: Graham Lauridsen

Three chicks who have been residents at Garners Beach Cassowary Recovery Facility during 2015 were released back into the wild in late November. Small tracking devices have been attached to the young birds. Dr Hamish Campbell and Dr Graham Lauridsen will be running a three year tracking project to see where the birds roam and how long they survive. The tracking devices are small, placed on the back of the cassowary’s neck, and the batteries last between three and five years. The birds will be tracked from a transceiver located in the bush near the release site in Hull River National Park south of the river. The transceiver has a range of about five kilometres. Local residents will also be on the lookout any birds with the tracking devices if they travel further afield.

The tracking device attached to the back of the young cassowary's neck Photo: Graham Lauridsen

The tracking device attached to the back of the young cassowary’s neck Photo: Graham Lauridsen

There have also been some new arrivals at Garners Beach in the past month.NewChick1

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Garners Beach cassowaries

The Cassowary Recovery Facility at Garners Beach is currently home to five chicks and one adult.

Two more very young chicks have arrived in the past two weeks. One from Licuala National Park is now eating and running around quite well after ten days. Another chick arrived a few days ago from Hull Heads, found in a back yard going on dark. The owner of the property had never seen an adult cassowary on his property ever before.  The chick came into the veterinary surgery quite weak and dehydrated.  After an evening of apple, banana and supplements and a quick lesson from the veterinary nurses on how to pick up food off the ground, the chick had made an amazing recovery.  A physical exam  showed the chick to be quite bright and feisty by morning.

The young chick from Hull Heads

The young chick from Hull Heads – Photo courtesy of Graham Lauridsen

The two chicks will be kept in adjacent pens for a week or so until the quarantine period has passed and then they will be placed together so they can grow up like siblings.

Yesterday, a six-foot female cassowary was taken to the recovery facility after being hit by a car near South Mission Beach. She was assessed by local veterinarian, Dr Graham Lauridsen, and it is hoped she will make a full recovery. Fortunately, the Department of Environment and Heritage had recently made improvements to the facility so it can once again accept adult birds.

You can read more in this media release about the Queensland Government commitment of up to $50,000 for  cassowary rehabilitation to keep the Garners Beach centre running.

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection has put out a Cassowary Rehabilitation Expression of Interest to provide for financial sponsorship, rehabilitation services or organisational support at the Garners Beach Cassowary Recovery Facility.

The young chick from Hull Heads

The young chick from Hull Heads – Photo courtesy of Graham Lauridsen

Three new cassowary chicks at Garners Beach

Photo: Emily Judson

Photo: Emily Judson

The Garners Beach Cassowary Recovery Facility now has three chicks in care. Two of these chicks came from South Mission Beach where they had been wandering alone without any father for several days. They were brought in to the Tully Veterinary Clinic for assessment where Dr Graham Lauridsen found them to be quite emaciated, but not actually suffering from any significant issues. They were they taken to Garners Beach where they have been raised and fed since November last year.

The third chick was found on Etty Bay road after being hit by a car. It was cared for by a wildlife ranger overnight and brought to the Tully Veterinary Clinic for assessment. Radiographs revealed a fracture in the spine. Thankfully, the fracture was low down in the spine and, after several days of attentive care, the chick was also placed into care at Garners Beach.

The three cassowary chicks are prospering and hanging out together. They have been weighed, microchipped and wormed. The chicks will stay at Garners Beach for the rest of the year and will be released back into the wild once they are big and strong enough to look after themselves. Researchers hope to track the chicks after their release using GPS technology to see where they move to and how they survive the vulnerable young adult phase of their lives.

Many thanks to Rainforest Rescue which continues to provide funding for the care of the cassowary chicks and operates the recovery facility under an agreement with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. Money raised through the Save the Cassowary campaign goes to help keep the recovery facility working.

Photo: Emily Judson

Photo: Emily Judson

Photo: Graham Lauridsen

Photo: Graham Lauridsen

Keeping track

Young cassowary chicks have a low chance of survival after the premature death of a parent, so chicks are regularly brought into care at the Garner’s Beach rehabilitation facility where they are hand-reared by DERM staff until ready for release into the wild.

Until recently, nothing was known about the fate of the released birds, but a new research project is changing that. Continue reading