Travelling further north in Far North Queensland we spent a night at Mission Beach where it is known one would see the world’s most dangerous and Australia’s second largest flightless bird, the Southern Cassowary. All visitors to the top end are warned ‘Be wary of the Cassowary’ not so much because of the bony head piece or casque, but because of their huge clawed feet with three toes, the innermost having a huge claw which it uses to attack. After tearing open the victim they jump on them. They have been known to bang on doors and break glass to get entry, or to attack their own reflection.
It is one of the few birds that can and has killed humans and animals when provoked. We were at Mission Beach on the weekend of the Cassowary Festival, but not one bird could be seen. However there are signs all along the road warning of recent Cassowary crossings. A friend gave us a tip off to go to nearby Etty Beach and that is where these photos came from. A pair quite tame birds, did the rounds for food in the caravan park, hiding out on nearby private property. This video shows how tall they can stand when picking fruit.
Humans driving cars are the reason numbers are depleting, including depleted habitat. When people feed wild animals they come to them for more food. A car means humans means food, to a unsuspecting Cassowary, which results in death, as you can see by the sign warning below. These birds are fruit eaters, and it has recently been realised they are most important in maintaining the integrity of rainforest by pooing out the seeds from the fruit they eat at various locations. When these birds are gone the rainforest may start to deplete itself of new growth and die.
Another lifer, the Pheasant Coucal, was sighted from quite a distance coming out of the rainforest for a moment and I managed to get one shot before it saw me and fled. I had seen these beautiful birds several times flying off into the forest as I drove along the road A tourist from the Czech Republic joined me as we tried to find the bird. Click on photos to enlarge them.
Leaving the coast we made our up into the hinterland of the famous Atherton Tablelands where the thickest rainforest exists, and the home of the Tree Kangaroo which we managed to see in the pouting rain. We had to go over unsealed rough roads with the hire care at only 20 km/hr, but we were determined and praying the whole way that the car would be OK, and thankfully it was. It was pouring rain most of the time up there, and this footage was taken high up in the light deprived canopy.
Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo is the species found almost exclusively in this region. Papua and New Guinea also have their own species. They feed on leaves and fruit from the native forest. Their very long tail has no visible function as it does not grab or hold, it just hangs down. This was a lifer in the wild for us both. Unlike other kangaroos it spends its life in rainforest trees where it seldom comes down, but to relocate to food sources.
While up in the Atherton area we actually stayed in an Eco Lodge deep in the rainforest, where each morning and night we not only heard the rain and the the strange sounds of the rainforest birds calling, but actually got to feed some of the regular visitors to our cabin. The two lifers that came to visit were the Spotted Catbird and the female Victoria Riflebird. Sadly the colorful male Riflebirds are usually further north this time of year. The chubby Lewins Honeyeater, a rainforest bird we are well acquainted with down south was our most frequent visitor, eating pieces of fruit we put out on the railing, as we sat and sipped our wine and cheese.
Apologies for the visual noise in the video clip as it was quite dark facing into the rainforest most of the time, especially in the rain. Most of the rainforest birds, and in fact most Australian birds are fruit eaters, nectar eaters, insect eaters and Lerps eaters, but for rainforest birds native fruits and insects are thew main diet..
Each morning we were awakened to the sounds of the Catbird calling and the Orange-footed Scrubfowl. You can’t mistake the loud Catbird sound which woke us up, and the Scrubfowl is making the unusual loud warbling cackle occasionally and some other bird is making the regular single note chime. It sounded like this…
We did manage to see an Orange-footed Scrubfowl digging outside of the forest while the common Australian Brush Turkey wandered around. The Brush Turkey is very brazen and has no fear, it would try and steal the food we put out for the shy rainforest birds. They are a problem in Sydney also for destroying gardens and building their mounds in unpopular places.
The Little Shrike-thrush was a common bird here in the rainforest also, it was frequenting the gardens of the Eco lodge.
While near Atherton we took drive to famous Hastie’s Swamp a great haven for waterbirds, and always full of Plumed Whistling Ducks, they were there in their hundreds whistling away.
They are a beautiful looking bird, the males have the larger longer plumes, and a true flock bird. We saw many of these birds in various places on our travels far north.
Several families of Pink-eared Duck and a few only of Australia’s rarest endemic waterfowl, the Freckled Duck, which is not normally seen this far north. Freckled Duck but they like usual, being shy of humans were some distance and sleeping on the water as you will see in my one good shot below..
You can learn more about the Pink-eared Duck from reading my book “What Birds Teach Us” which you can order here online. Visit my BirdBook page to find out more. Thank you so much everyone for your wonderful reviews, so glad it is blessing people of all ages.
Also, if you have not visited my new Special Sightings page and seen my latest entry the Powerful Owl (male and female), Australia’s largest owl, we saw last weekend, with Possum prey hanging on display from beneath the talon of the male click here. and I’ll take you there.
You may remember this sequence of events in the first video clip of this post…
The lesson I learn from the Southern Cassowary is that so called human kindness can be to the dire detriment of the bird. No matter how tame the bird might appear to be, this camper is doing the right thing in preventing the bird from stealing his food, he as the saying goes being cruel to be kind by discouraging the bird from coming to humans for handouts, which is the main cause of them being killed on roads, as well as attacking people and destructively breaking into houses. Notice how this man wisely rebuked the bird standing behind the table and making minimum eye contact. It was the following picture, my wife took, which caused me to see the spiritual aspect in all this.
Here in this photo man and wild bird have respect and lack of fear for each other, the man appreciating this special moment with this bird which is capable of killing him if it felt threatened or become aggressive demanding food. Many of Australia’s territorial birds are aggressive. As an aside: Australia has the largest percentage of aggressive birds in the world, and it is partly due to their diet and their territorial controls, as they compete for nectar, lerps and fruit. You are more likely to be attacked by a bird in Australia than any where else, and other birds and other animals are included as victims.
Interesting enough, the above picture occurs after the above series of the man chastising the bird for trying to steal his food. Today, sadly, we are seeing many problems with youth not having respect and consideration for others. This selfishness is partly due to the lack of discipline the parents have not employed during the child’s formative years. The secular humanistic philosophies which have departed from the life principles of the Creator has contributed to this. The spare the rod and spoil the child has come about because many parents disciplined out of anger, frustration and cruel punishment instead of out of loving correction, which uses a bare minimum of physical corrective contact while the child is very young. As with the Cassowary, when a child is allowed to always have its way, and becomes dependent on us to give it what it wants, we set a pattern for their future downfall in life, leading to possible depressive and loveless mindset, and in some cases suicide (internalized rage) or violent anger (externalized rage). As parents we need to firstly model the behaviour we want for our children by loving them, and the most important way we can do this is to love our spouse, for this is what they will learn more so than words, as the old adage says: it is better felt than telt. We teach our children and grandchildren more from how we live and speak than from anything we tell them to do, or even discipline them for. All discipline is meant in to be loving correction of bad behaviour BEFORE it gets out of hand, not for our own gain, but for the overall future good of the child. The types of discipline change with the growing child. God himself does the same with me, as she shapes my life and disciplines me when I become selfish and do things in a way detriment to his best for my life.
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.’ – Hebrews 12: 5-11 (NIV)
Have a wonderful week!
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