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

Hodgson's Frogmouth

Batrachostomus hodgsoni

The Hodgson's frogmouth, a diminutive member of the Podargidae family, measures between 24.5 and 27.5 centimeters in length and tips the scales at a modest 50 grams. Its plumage, a masterful blend of browns and grays, mimics the intricate patterns of tree bark, providing it with exceptional camouflage. The male of the species boasts a rufous brown hue, adorned with bold black markings and a striking white collar, while the female presents a more uniform rufous coloration with black-tipped white spots. These birds are characterized by their substantial heads and bodies, which contrast with their diminutive legs and feet, rendering them exclusively arboreal. Their formidable bills, adorned with rictal bristles, are a distinctive feature, giving them a somewhat cantankerous appearance.

Identification Tips

To identify Hodgson's frogmouth, one must rely on its unique vocalizations, as its physical characteristics are largely similar to other frogmouths, save for minor color variations. The bird's call is the most reliable identifier, with its soft, trilled whistles and occasional chuckling notes.

Habitat

Hodgson's frogmouth thrives in the temperate forests of Asia, preferring the broad-leaved evergreen or mixed coniferous tropical rainforests. It is typically found in the middle to lower storeys of these lush habitats.

Distribution

This species is distributed across various tropical regions of Asia, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. It resides at altitudes ranging from 300 to 1,900 meters.

Behaviour

Hodgson's frogmouth is a solitary and non-migratory bird, engaging in social interactions primarily during the breeding season. It is a nocturnal predator, employing a shrike-like or roller-like hunting method to capture insects from perches, as its short wings and tail are not suited for hawking in flight.

Song & Calls

During the breeding season, the Hodgson's frogmouth becomes quite vocal, producing a range of soft wheezy whistles to harsh tremulous rattles. Its song consists of gentle, slightly trilled rising whistles, punctuated at times by soft, chuckling whooo notes.

Breeding

The breeding season spans from April to June, with nests being small, cup-shaped structures lined with down. These nests are placed on horizontal branches or tree forks. The male incubates the 2 to 4 small white eggs for about 30 days, and both parents feed the young with regurgitated food.

Similar Species

While similar to other frogmouths, Hodgson's frogmouth can be distinguished by its heavier bill, shorter and more rounded wings, and its upright posture when perched.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of Hodgson's frogmouth is primarily insectivorous, consisting of moths, beetles, and other large insects. It forages for prey within tree trunks and branches, using its large bill and rictal bristles to detect and capture insects.

Conservation status

Despite habitat fragmentation and loss in some areas, the Hodgson's frogmouth benefits from a vast habitat range and does not meet the criteria for being considered vulnerable. Consequently, it is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

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