Who's that? Not an owl, that's for sure! Tawny frogmouths may be nocturnal predators, but unlike owls, they sit and wait for their prey to come to them. Although their feathers are adapted for silent flight, they are somewhat weak fliers.
These birds can blend in with trees so well that most people can't spot them, never mind predators that may want to eat them! When they feel threatened, frogmouths will stretch out their bodies, pointing their wide, flat beaks upward and stand completely still at the end of a tree branch. Voila! The frogmouth can all but vanish using this technique, almost exactly resembling an extension of a branch. Their cryptically colored plumage also aids these birds in catching their favorite prey: large moths. They sit and wait in trees, completely still, until an insect flies by and then snap! They snatch the prey up with their curved beaks and it's game over. When they are particularly hungry, however, these Australian birds will chase after their food, using silent flight to sneak up on other animals.
These birds are often confused with owls, though they are more closely related to nightjars (like our Whip-poor-wills). They are masters at camouflage; they will often be seen with their beak angled upward, blending in with their branches. These birds are ambush hunters, sitting very still on a branch and wait for prey (usually insects, slugs/snails, and small rodents) to come near. Once they are in reach, they will pounce and grab it with their beak.
The tawny frogmouth may look like an owl, but these birds are actually related to nightjars!
Mainland Australia and Tasmania
Urban areas, wooded areas with large, sprawling trees
Height: 20-53 cm, Wingspan: 64-97 cm, Weight: 200-600 g
Large moths and other insects, scorpions, frogs, snails, small mammals, some fruit
Carpet python, foxes, domestic dogs and cats
Camouflage, intimidating predators by opening their bright yellow mouths, flying away
These birds mate for life! They breed during the rainy season, and both the male and female will incubate the eggs while defending them from predators. Hatchlings leave the nest after an average of 30 days.
Up to 10 years in human care