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A photo of a Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides)
Tawny Frogmouth

Tawny Frogmouth

Podargus strigoides

The Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) is a species of bird native to Australia, including Tasmania, and is often mistaken for an owl due to its nocturnal habits and similar coloring. This stocky bird is characterized by its large head, rounded wings, and short legs. It has a wide, heavy bill, olive-grey to blackish in color, hooked at the tip and adorned with bristles. The eyes are large and yellow, but unlike owls, they are not forward-facing.

Identification Tips

Adult Tawny Frogmouths can range from 34 to 53 cm in length and weigh up to 680 grams, though average weights are lower. They exhibit three color morphs: grey, rufous, and occasionally leucistic or albinistic. The grey morph is most common, with males displaying silver-grey upperparts with black streaks and paler underparts, while females may be darker with more rufous mottling.

Habitat

Tawny Frogmouths inhabit a variety of environments, including forests, woodlands, scrublands, heathlands, and savannahs. They are adaptable to human presence and can be found in suburban parks and gardens.

Distribution

This species is widespread across the Australian mainland and Tasmania, except for certain arid regions. They are particularly common in areas with river gums and casuarinas.

Behaviour

Tawny Frogmouths are known for their effective camouflage, often perching motionless on tree branches during the day, resembling broken branches. They are carnivorous, feeding on a variety of insects and small vertebrates. These birds are also known for their lifelong partnerships, with pairs often roosting closely together.

Song & Calls

Their vocal repertoire includes a deep "oom-oom-oom" grunting at night and a soft "whoo-whoo-whoo" call. They also emit a soft warning buzz and a loud hissing noise when threatened.

Breeding

Breeding season occurs from August to December, with nests built on horizontal tree branches. Both sexes share in incubation duties, and once hatched, both parents feed the young.

Similar Species

While similar in appearance to owls, Tawny Frogmouths differ in their weaker feet, lack of a face disc, and side-facing eyes. They also lack the powerful talons and flexible toe joints that owls use for hunting.

Diet and Feeding

Their diet primarily consists of nocturnal insects and pests, making them natural pest controllers. They pounce from perches to catch prey on the ground or in flight.

Conservation status

The Tawny Frogmouth is classified as "Least Concern" by the IUCN. However, they face threats from predation, habitat destruction, and human impacts such as vehicle collisions and poisoning from pesticides and rodenticides.

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Tawny Frogmouth Fun Facts

Did you know?
Tawny Frogmouths perch upright, close their eyes, and elongate their bodies to resemble a broken tree branch for camouflage.

Tawny Frogmouths on Birda

Sightings

More Frogmouths

A photo of a Hodgson's Frogmouth (Batrachostomus hodgsoni) , male

Hodgson's Frogmouth

Batrachostomus hodgsoni
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