There are 16 species of frogmouth divided into 3 genera. They inhabit forests across Australia and southern Asia. Most popular species of this bird is tawny frogmouth and in this article we will refer to it most of the time.
Its Latin name is Podargus strigoides and it’s a member of Podargidae family.
There are three subspecies of this bird: P. s. brachypterus, P. s. phalaenoides and P. s. strigoides.
Tawny frogmouths are native to Australia mainland and Tasmania.
They are big birds.
Body length of Tawny frogmouth is 34 to 53 cm (13 to 21 in) long and a wingspan of 45 to 60 cm (17.7 – 23.6 in). Males are slightly larger than females.
They are often mistaken for owls.
Frogmouths are not owls, but due to their similarities to those birds and nocturnal activity many people wrongly assume so.
There are three distinct color morphs of those birds.
Their plumage can be silvery-gray or brown with black streaks. Those colors are perfect for camouflage.
They use their camouflage eagerly.
Silver and grey plumage with black streaks blends perfectly with tree bark so it’s really difficult to notice them while motionless. They tend to choose broken branches of trees, sit there with heads pointed upwards, accordingly to the branch angle.
So, what differs frogmouths from owls?
First of all – legs. Owls have massive talons and strong legs because they catch prey with them. Frogmouths on the other hand prefer using beaks to catch their meal.
What else? Nesting. While frogmouths builds their nest in tree branches, owls nest in tree hollows.
They also have different beaks. Frogmouths have wide pointed forwards, owls have narrow, downward pointed ones. Owls also have large face discs and asymmetrical ears which are not present in tawny frogmouths.
Tawny frogmouths are carnivorous birds.
They feed mostly on moths, spiders, snails, slugs but they will not despise other insects.
Famous Australian pest-control birds.
Due to their diet they are considered very effective in reduction of vermin animal population.
Relationships for life.
They bond in pairs for a long time and spend time close to each other sitting on the same branch. Once they establish a pair they usually stay in the same territory for long.
Their breeding season starts in August and lasts till December.
Both male and female participate in building nest.
They build big nests.
Nests are usually located in forked tree branches and reach up to 30 cm (11.8 in) in diameter. They are built with twigs, grass and leaves. Structure is not very durable and can disintegrate easily.
They lay one to three eggs in single clutch.
Both parent incubate eggs but males do it during the day and partners change over at night. Brooding bird is provided with food by it’s partner.
Eggs are incubated for around 30 days.
Chicks hatch out with downy feathers and are being fed by both parents. After 25 to 35 days juveniles become fledlings and are ready to leave the nest.
They often fall prey to cats, foxes and dogs.
Tawny frogmouths life span in wild is approximately 10 years.