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

Hodgson's Frogmouth

Batrachostomus hodgsoni

Hodgson's frogmouth (Batrachostomus hodgsoni) is a species of bird in the family Podargidae. It is found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. Its natural habitat is temperate forests. This bird is part of the same order as nightjars are. Both birds are nocturnal and they share similar rictal bristles on the bill which they use to know when to close their bill shut on insects as they hawk. This feature is just a hypothesis by scientists who do not completely understand the true use of those bristles yet. the frogmouth differs from its cousin by heavier bills, shorter and more rounded wings and upright posture when perched. Hodgson's frogmouth is one of the smaller members of the family Podargidae. As an adult, its length ranges between 24.5 and 27.5 cm and it weighs approximately 50 g. The brown and gray plumage of this tropical bird resembles tree bark. This plumage is a soft and mottled cryptic plumage. The physical appearance differs from other species by a heavier black marking above breast as well as no rufous on breast. Hodgson's frogmouth is the most well-marked sexual dichromatic of all frogmouths. The male is rufous brown. Upper parts are heavily marked with black, especially on the head, with irregular bold whitish markings particularly on scapular and upper mantle which forms a white collar. Underparts are heavily and regularly marked with black, white and rufous. Female is more uniformly rufous, with irregular black-tipped white spots on the upper mantle, scapular and underparts. Males duller in color than females. Frogmouths are distinguishable by their large head and body compared to their small legs and feet. This feature blocks them from walking and make them exclusively arboreal. They have a thick large bill that takes the most part of their face and make them look like an angry old man. This strong bill is covered with rictal bristles at its base. These two last physical traits are others unique criteria of Frogmouth that make them look like an angry old man. The utility of the bristles on their face is much debated by biologists. The most popular hypothesis is that the bird would use them to detect insects and know when to close their bill shut on the invertebrates when this one is near the mouth. They have additional long facial bristles suspected to protect the eyes. Their large head and their bill also contain a pair of two large yellow-rounded eyes which help them to see in the dark during night times. The Asian bird possesses short round wings and tail which explain its very local territory. As they do not differ from other frogmouth except some slight color variation, the best way to identify Hodgson's frogmouth is by its call. Youngs are born with white down that is replaced by a darker, grayish down before juvenile plumage is acquired. They also have warm-tinged above with black and pale brown bars. They do not possess nuchal collar which only comes after primary molt.
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