Over 430 species of birds have been recorded in the area encompassing the Wet Tropics and the Great Barrier Reef regions of Australia. This is more than half the bird species for the entire continent.
Many of these birds are easily seen in the Daintree area throughout the year. At particular times of the year, "birders" from all over the world will travel to our region just to catch sight of some of the more unique species that happen to be either passing through or setting up temporary residence for breeding purposes.
The Wet Tropics has 13 of endemic species and of these the Lesser Sooty Owl, Macleay's Honeyeater, Pied Monarch, and Victoria's Riflebird can be seen in and around Daintree. Also of enormous interest to birdwatchers are the Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, Great-billed Heron, Little Kingfisher and several other species of Kingfisher, Black Bittern, Mangrove Robin, Lovely Fairy-wren, Double-eyed Fig Parrot, Red-necked Crake and of course, the Southern Cassowary which may be seen on the northern side of the river.
The Daintree area provides a variety of habitats: rainforest, wetlands, mangroves, open fields and the Daintree River. As well as the regular residents (at least 30 species daily in the Village), the birds vary according to the seasons.
Winter is perhaps the quietest time of the year for birds, but the nicest for birdwatchers. The Wompoo Fruit-Doves and Spotted Catbirds can be seen happily eating the fruits of the many Blue Quandong trees; Monarchs and Flycatchers pass through and the raptors will be building their nests.
Spring is a treat with the Pied Imperial Pigeons and Metallic Starlings returning from winter in New Guinea while the Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfishers arrive for their breeding season. Common Koels and Channel-billed Cuckoos also return at this time.
Summer is the Wet Season and, despite the sometimes difficult conditions, can be excellent for birding. The spring arrivals (see above) are joined by the Black Bittern which can be often seen on the river or beside the numerous creeks and waterways. Kingfishers abound.
Whilst autumn sees the departure of the migrants to warmer climates, we are joined by Dollar Birds and Rainbow Bee-eaters which add to our colourful regulars.
Daintree is an ideal location as a base for a birding holiday in Far North Queensland. It can also be an important addition to a birding itinerary which may otherwise include Cairns, Julatten, Mareeba and the Atherton Tablelands.
The Daintree is a critical habitat and a ‘hot spot’ for the endangered Southern Cassowary. The population of cassowaries in the Daintree is relatively high, providing the alert and watchful visitor with a good chance of a sighting.
Height is 1.5 - 2 metres
Bare blue and red skin on neck and head
Bony helmet on head
Can be dangerous when cornered or with chicks.
Its plumage effectively ensures they blend in with the surrounding rainforest, making them elusive and difficult to spot.
NEVER feed cassowaries.
If you are composting food scraps put the scraps in a secure enclosure.
If you see a cassowary when driving, don’t stop the vehicle. Simply drive slowly and carefully past and alert oncoming vehicles to the hazard by flashing your lights.
If you encounter a cassowary in the wild, back calmly away. Hold a bag or other item in front of your body and try to get behind a tree. Don’t run – cassowaries are faster.
NEVER get between an adult bird and its chicks.
Father cassowaries are the caregivers.
The female lays her eggs in a scrape on the ground.
The father then sits on them for about 50 days until they hatch.
The little chicks, which start life with cream and black stripes, stay with the father for about nine months during which time they follow him around, learning how to feed.
Then, as the next breeding season approaches, (June to October) he chases them away.
Many chicks die at this age as they venture out looking for territories of their own.
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