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Tawny Frogmouths nesting in Batesford’s habitat

Tawny Frogmouths

Tawny Frogmouth with chicks

18 September 2020

We are very pleased to see a pair of Tawny Frogmouths (Podargus strigoides) returning to nest in our Ironbark Eucalyptus and finding a welcoming habitat there.

Tawny Frogmouths have been sighted in the nearby Red Gum Reserve as the revegetation there matures. These unique nocturnal birds can be found across almost the entire Australian continent.

Tawny Frogmouth pairs mate for life, and male and female share the care of their chicks. The male bird will pick up a few sticks and leaves and shove them into place, bundling them together roughly in the shape of what looks like a flimsy nest. They use the same nest (or what remains of it), year after year.

The female lays one to three eggs and then the male takes over, giving her a break to rest. In the daytime the male sits on the nest to incubate the eggs. At night male and female alternate on the nest. Once the eggs have hatched father and mother take turns to keep the chicks warm and safe. The chicks stay in the nest for about a month and then roost on a branch with their parents for several months.

To avoid predators during the day when roosting a Tawny Frogmouth will stretch itself up on a dead branch, looking exactly like a broken-off stump which matches their patterned feathers.

Tawny Frogmouths

Tawny Frogmouths

They make a few different vocalisations, but their most commonly heard call is a low-pitched, repetitive sequence of ‘ooom-ooom-ooom’ sounds. This call is a common night sound of the Australian bush, especially in spring and summer when Tawny Frogmouths are breeding.

Tawny Frogmouths primarly eat spiders, beetles, cockroaches and other arthropods. They will also consume moths (they are particularly fond of the large bogong moths) and frogs. Only occasionally will Tawny Frogmouths eat small rodents, reptiles or birds. The major component of their diet is insectivorous. Being nocturnal hunters they can be injured or killed by cars.

Tawny Frogmouths are found in a range of environments across Australia—from desert to cold mountains. Their feathers insulate them well, both from heat and cold.

Learn more on the Australian Geographic website:

Tawny frogmouths: 5 things you may not know about these masters of disguise.