Monday, 13 November 2006

Frogmouth prince

I spotted this tawny frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) near the You Yangs. If you've never been close to one of these fabulous birds, a resting frogmouth looks like a feathered football stuck in a tree. That's until it notices you noticing it, in which case it eyeballs you for a while then adopts a stretched-out I-am-a-branch pose. This one was still thinking about it when I took the photo.

The tawny frogmouth is one of three species of frogmouth found in Australia. It is by far the most widespread, occurring wherever there is suitable cover, including city parks and gardens.

Although plumage colour varies with age and sex, and also with locality, the birds are always unmistakeable. There's nothing quite like a frogmouth.

Or so you might think. But the large eyes and camouflaged feathers mean they are sometimes mistaken for owls. Both are nocturnal hunters but that's about as far as it goes. They are not closely related. The frogmouths (family Podargidae) of Australia, New Guinea and SE Asia are relatives of nightjars (Caprimulgidae), which are found worldwide. And both are a long way from owls.


Sophie said...

Thanks for the photo!

Although I've only seen them in captivity, it was love at first sight when I did.
Thanks also for the owl/frogmouth clarification.

Snail said...

They're stunning birds. I know they're quite abundant but I'm always surprised and delighted when I see one.