Tawny frogmouth – Podargus strigoides

I am convinced Tawny frogmouths are one of our most popular birds. Whenever I mention them to anyone, they always receive some kind of adoring response. But let’s get one thing clear right from the outset: they are not owls.

I can understand why people see a similarity – the round face, large eyes and nocturnal habits are very reminiscent of owls, but there are some very significant differences as well which means the two birds are in completely different orders. One of these differences is that owls have no crop, whereas Tawny frogmouths, like most birds, do.

Australia has three species of Frogmouth, with the Tawnies being the most widely spread – being found right across the mainland and Tasmania. As they are adapted to a wide variety of habitats there is considerable variation in their size, colouring and markings across their range. They are very well adapted to urban environments and are easily our most well-known and regularly sighted nocturnal bird.

They hunt mainly just after dusk and before dawn, dropping on their prey from a high vantage point. They will eat a wide variety of small invertebrates and vertebrates. They breed in spring and summer and lay 2 to 3 eggs in a platform nest made of sticks.

During the day they rely on their camouflage to conceal them as they sleep, and they can do a very good impersonation of a broken branch jutting out from a tree trunk. They will roost singly, in pairs or sometimes in family groups, and it is quite a sight to see half dozen or so of them all in the one tree. To find out more about birds in general visit birdbites.com.au or the Bird Bites facebook and youtube channel.

This article first appeared in the High Country Herald on 11th of June, 2024

Sad to say they do sometimes end up as prey for other birds – and this one was taken on my property by a Brown goshawk. You can read more about this incident here.