Frogmouth birds belong to family Podargidae. And have three genera Podargus, Batrachostomus, and Rigidipenna. They are nocturnal birds. Frogmouth bird is name is given after frog because of its appearance with the frog. It has a flattened, frog-like beak used to capture insects and other animals. They have a cryptic plumage which they use to camouflage themselves. These birds lay almost 3 eggs in one season which are looked after by both the parents.
What will I learn?
- 1 Tawny Frogmouth bird – All You Need to Know
- 1.1 The appearance of the Tawny Frogmouth bird:
- 1.2 Size of Tawny Frogmouth bird:
- 1.3 Distribution and Habitat:
- 1.4 Diet and Feeding of Frogmouth bird:
- 1.5 Calls and Vocalizations:
- 1.6 Breeding:
- 1.7 Thermoregulation:
- 1.8 The threat to the Birds:
- 1.9 Facts about tawny Frogmouth bird:
- 2 Conclusion:
Read more to know about these unique creatures that probably look like a frog but belongs to Class Aves and exhibit various features that will blow your mind.
Tawny Frogmouth bird – All You Need to Know
Among the three genera, Podargus have a large number of species of frogmouth bird. These frogmouth birds are restricted to Australia and New Guinea only.
One of the most common species is the tawny frogmouth bird. Like all the frogmouth birds, this tawny bird is also nocturnal. Moreover, due to its appearance, it is confused with Australian owl called boobook.
The appearance of the Tawny Frogmouth bird:
Tawny frogmouth bird is a large-headed bird with extremely cryptic plumage. Its color is greyish silver marked with black, white, and brown streaks. This pattern allows the bird to hide on a tree just like bark or broken branch of the tree. This plumage makes them almost invisible when sitting on a tree which helps them to escape predators.
The color of their beak is olive-grey or olive black that has a tuft of bristles and is hooked at the tip. They have large yellow-color eyes. They have round wings and short legs. Moreover, this bird has three different morphs.
Size of Tawny Frogmouth bird:
The tawny frogmouth can weigh up to 354 g and females can weigh up to 297 g. Although some birds can weigh more or less depending on their lifestyle. The length of these birds ranges from 34-53 centimeters.
Distribution and Habitat:
These birds are majorly found in the Australian region and Tasmania. They are mostly seen in the eastern and northern parts of these lands. Habitat of these birds includes almost any kind like forests, grasslands, woodlands, scrubs, and vegetation. They are also sometimes seen in forests with heavy precipitations and treeless deserts.
Moreover, they can also reside in forests nears rivers and in areas where Eucalyptus camaldulensis is abundant. Sometimes they have also been seen to nest in local green spaces and gardens. They can easily camouflage themselves on the bark that is why they can also survive in locals areas such as parks and gardens.
Diet and Feeding of Frogmouth bird:
As it is mentioned the frogmouth bird belongs to a family of nocturnal birds just like nightjars. So they do not actively hunt during the daylight. Although they rest on a tree with an open mouth so whenever an insect or other vertebrate animal falls they will consume them to get energy.
The tawny frogmouth bird is carnivorous. Their diet consists majorly of insects especially those that are nocturnal including pests, vermin, centipedes, beetles, slugs, wasps, snails, bugs, worms, and spiders.
As soon as the night begins the bird comes out and starts foraging these vertebrates. They capture their food by using perching movements or pounce directly from the tree.
Their plumage gives them a great advantage to hide on the tree branches so that they can easily camouflage themselves and capture their prey without being seen.
This bird can remain camouflaged until there is some kind of threat.
Calls and Vocalizations:
Tawny frogmouth bird can make a variety of calls and alarms. When there is some kind of threat these birds call an alarm which warns the young ones to remain their positions and be silent so that they can save themselves from predators and with a little movement their natural camouflage remains intact.
Further, these birds communicate with each other in a low pitch sound, but when there is a major threat there calls can reach miles away.
Calls of Young Ones:
The young ones make a variety of calls. Each call is specific for a specific kind of need for example hunger, fear, or expressing some distress. All these calls are unique and are understood by the parents.
For example, when the nesting is disturbed they make buzzing sounds like a bee. When they have a threat around them they make shrilling hissing and clacking sounds. During the night these birds make sounds like “oom-oom-oom” that is deep and constant and a “whoo-whoo-whoo” sound that soft.
The tawny frogmouth bird forms monogamous pairs that last for a lifetime. Their breeding season starts in August and ends in December. During this season male and female frogmouth bird roost together in the tree branch or nest. The male carries out the grooming of female plumage. This session ends in 10 minutes or more.
Nest of Frogmouth bird:
Both the parents share the nest for the breeding season. The nest is made up of twigs, sticks, and leaves. Moreover, leaf litter is used in the center to soften the nest. The nest is then organized on a horizontal tree branch that can measure up to 30 cm. these nests are so fragile that they can easily degenerate on their own.
Female frogmouth bird lay 1 to 3 eggs in a breeding season. The eggs are then incubated by both the parents. Male incubates them in the daylight while female incubate them at night.
The eggs are hatched after 28- 32 days. The young ones are called chicks. Both parents look after their chicks and feed them until they become independent.
After 25 to 35 days the chicks grow to such an extent that they can survive on their own. So the parents can leave them.
As we know tawny frogmouth birds live in Australia majorly. We know that the temperature there drops to 0 in winters and rises to 40 degrees or above in summers so how these birds manage to survive in such temperature variation?
In summers the bird chooses a branch of the tree where sunlight does not reach all day. Moreover, it also increases its rate of breathing without opening its beak.
If temperature further rises they start panting to eliminate any further heat and in worse scenarios, they engorge their blood vessels in the mouth and also release mucous to cool the air so they can breathe and survive easily.
In winter seasons the bird first chooses a place where sunlight is maximum. Besides this, the pair of birds roost and huddle together to remain warm.
They also reach the ground for a sunbath lay there and move their head so that heat can enter the areas of beak and all over the body easily.
Torpor is another mechanism performed by tawny frogmouth bird to survive in the winter. During winters when food supply vanishes and frost overcome the bird take itself in a condition where their heart rate and metabolism decreases and lower the temperature of the body.
It seems like hibernation but it is different from that and lasts for only several hours.
The threat to the Birds:
Tawny frogmouth birds face a variety of threats, especially during the feeding process. They are often killed on roads during chasing insects. Moreover, deforestation of eucalyptus can lead to the destruction of their habitat that can drastically affect their population.
Besides this, as we know these birds feed on pests, and insects’ excessive use of pesticides and insecticides can be very fatal to these birds. After all these threats the species has survived and is considered as least concerned species on the IUCN red list.
Facts about tawny Frogmouth bird:
Tawny frogmouth bird was discovered in 1801. The tawny frogmouth is always confused with the owl and it was also named as “strigoides” which is a Latin word meaning owl.
Although the tawny frogmouth looks like an owl it is in the close relationship with nightjars, potoos, and oilbirds. Tawny frogmouth bird is Australia’s second most famous bird.
During the breeding season, males and females attract each other by performing duets with a special order of calls. They also perform these duets between alternate partners and make drumming sounds as well.
frogmouth birds from genera Podargus and Batrachostomus have bristles on their bills.
Some other species of these genera are as follow:
- Tawny frogmouth,
- Marbled frogmouth,
- Papuan frogmouth,
- Large frogmouth,
- Dalit frogmouth,
- Philippine frogmouth,
- Gould’s frogmouth,
- Sri Lanka frogmouth,
- Hodgson’s frogmouth,
- Short-tailed frogmouth
- Javan frogmouth,
- Blyth’s frogmouth,
- Sunda frogmouth,
- Solomons frogmouth,
These species have to be studied much more to determine their actual behavior.
The frogmouth birds are very unique species carrying the characteristic bill like a frog. They belong to three genera and have different features. Podargus are large frogmouth birds. Batrachostomus are found in Asia.
Moreover in both genera frogmouth bird exhibits bristles around their beak. The third genera Rigidipenna was discovered in 2007 and much research has to be done on this genera as well as on other genera. Tawny frogmouth bird is one of the common and most studied birds in this family. Other species require extensive research.
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