Scientific Name: Podargus strigoides
Finn Beaumont, Vale Park, NSW
Hayley Franklin, Muswellbrook
Caroline Novakay, Riverheads
Despite popular belief frogmouths are not owls. Their night time activities and diet are about the only thing they have in common with owls as they are actually more closely related to the nightjar family, a group of small, secretive nocturnal birds that catch flying insects on the wing.
The tawny frogmouth is a perfect example of nature's camouflage at its best. The silvery-grey plumage streaked with black and brown and mottled with flecks of rusty brown and white provides these birds with the ability to sit in full view on an old tree stump in broad daylight and be practically invisible. Often a pair will sit together, their heads pointing skywards to further emphasize the dead tree appearance. Only if they are approached closely will their cover be broken as they take to flight or try to warn off predators by opening their cavernous bright yellow mouths. Northern frogmouths are noticeably smaller than their southern counterparts, the latter occasionally exceeding 50 cm in length.
Frogmouths are found over the entire Australian mainland as well as Tasmania. They prefer open woodland and savannah but will also inhabit scrub and heathland vegetation.
Frogmouths are nocturnal sit-and-wait hunters remaining perched on a favourite vantage point for hour scanning the surrounding area with their huge yellow eyes in search of movement. Frogs, lizards, insects, spiders and even small mammals are taken with a graceful swoop from their perch.
Tawny frogmouth construct large ungainly platforms of twigs up to 30cm in diameter, usually in a tree fork. The pair will share the incubation of the two or three eggs for a month and will also cooperate in the supply of food to the rapidly growing fluffy-white youngsters.