Mating Cassowaries, May 2012

This morning we had the privilege to observe cassowaries mating.

First the female sits down, then the male behind her, shuffling closer and closer.

It looks rather clumsy and it is impossible to tell whether he was successful, too many long feathers obscuring the view…

Male cassowaries, as the other ratites, have a pseudo-penis, which may make mating easier.

The adult birds were very relaxed, they did not even mind one of the chicks stepping over the female’s neck while she was sitting down for mating!

We watched the same pair mating in almost the same spot two years ago; maybe the female prefers the soft grass to a prickly forest floor and enjoys the ” privacy” of a Heliconia leaf over her head.

We didn’t expect the cassowaries to be in mating mood as yet, he usually looks after the chicks a bit longer.

What triggers the mating behaviour?

It has been a very good season with plenty of food and he only had to share it with 2 chicks, having lost the other 3 very early after hatching. He also recovered very well from a deep wound to his left heel. He does not look as exhausted and appears to be in better condition than in previous years.

I am writing this blog on our front veranda, while cassowary dad and the 2 chicks are strolling past, what a fantastic place to be!

Cassowary Family Life, May 2012

The local male cassowary looks after the chicks alone, like any other cassowary dad.

He crosses paths with the local female occasionally, and when they are ready to mate they travel together for a few weeks.

We would not expect this to happen for  a few months yet, his chicks being approximately 6 months old,  and he usually looks after them for about 9 months.

Yesterday evening the whole family arrived together (dad, the 2 chicks and mum) and, after picking up some palm fruits and drinking from our pond, disappeared into the forest.

I was not quite game enough to follow them, to find out whether they would bed down together, as well. Usually, when I tried to follow a cassowary -at a safe distance- I was always noticed  and chose to retreat.

So why is there the perception that cassowaries are solitairy animals? Certainly our male and female get along very well and the same is true for some cassowaries in the Daintree area.

Any biologists out there doing studies on cassoway behaviour?