While I am certainly no birdwatcher, I have to admit that I love seeing and hearing our avian friends when i am out and about. Some are inquisitive and cheeky, some spectacular and here in Australia one species is both awesome and a little scary! Scary bird I hear you say? Well, picture yourself in some dense Daintree rainforest, slowly picking your way through the Lawyer cane and Stinging Trees. You have a handlens in one hand, and you’re concentrating on the ground looking for an ant colony. Aside from the occasional crack of a whipbird and a few distant cicadas, it’s fairly quiet. You hear a deep booming sound, and it is getting closer. It’s an incredibly rich sound, and easily penetrates the dense forest. The next thing you see is a Licuala palm split and a 2 metre tall black, blue and red monster stands there sizing you up. It is, of course, a Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius). Attacks are rare, but they do happen, and if you meet a large female the best defense is usually a combination of making yourself look big and holding an object at arms length, at head height in front of you. They don’t like to duck!
Luckily… she ran off and I survived to go annoy a few more ants. Here is a pic of a male I also came across, photographed from a car window this time.
Here are a few more birds I have come across recently. Unlike the Cassowary those below are all common, and unlikely to chase you down if you irritate them!