Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Tawny frogmouth (Podargus strigoides)


This bird is one of the drowsiest of creatures, being less easily roused by day than any other slumberer of night. All the day long it sits sleeping upon a branch, its body crouched closely to the bough, its head buried amid the masses of soft feathers upon the head and shoulders, and its whole form as motionless as if were carved out of the branch on which it reposes.

… If pushed off the branch with a long rod, the Podargus can barely summon sufficient energy to save itself from falling to the ground, and flapping its wings languidly to the nearest bough, settles, and is almost immediately wrapped in sleep, thus practically carrying out the complaint of Dr. Watts' sluggard, "You have waked me too soon, I must slumber again."
John George Wood, 1862
The Illustrated Natural History

6 comments:

Sherrie said...

Drowsy frogmouths are excellent life drawing subjects since they barely move. As a result I spent many frustrating hours perched in front of the pair at the Denver zoo, suffering not from the uncooperativeness of my subjects, but from the willful ignorance of other observers. Despite a large sign proclaiming "This is not an owl," probably 8 of 10 parents dragged their offspring to the glass whilst demanding, "Johnny, look at the owl. Now come along."

Argh.

Dave Coulter said...

Some mornings I know just how that bird feels! :)

Duncan said...

Just beautiful.

Snail said...

Sherrie, people still make that mistake here. I never know whether to correct them or just say nothing. I wish I had the resolve of a friend of mine who gave someone a lecture when they misidentified something at Healesville Sanctuary. The something was a brush-tailed possum sound asleep on top of an aviary. A mother pointed at it and said to her child, "Look, a wombat." My friend Lyn (not the Lyn who does lovely illustrations of frogmouths) just went right off about "arboreal bloody wombats". It was a hell of an over-reaction but damn it was impresive!

Snail said...

Me too, Dave!

I'm still amused (and appalled) by the idea of John Wood going around pushing frogmouths off their perches. Could this have been an early colonial sport?

Snail said...

Aren't they, Duncan? I was having a look at the full size image and noticed that there seems to be a double row of short fluffy feathers along the eyelid. I hadn't noticed it before. It just made me even more enamoured of them!