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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Species Fact Profile: Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides)

Tawny Frogmouth
Podargus strigoides (Latham, 1801)

Range: Australia, Tasmania
Habitat: Open Forest, Woodland
Diet: Insects, Worms, Snails, Small Mammals, Reptiles, Frogs
Social Grouping: Pairs
Reproduction: Monogamous (may be for life).  Breeding season is August through December.  Nest on a loose platform of sticks in a tree, about 30 centimeters in diameter.  Both sexes incubate the 1-3 eggs.  Chicks fledge at 25-35 days.
Lifespan: 14 Years
Conservation Status: IUCN Least Concern

  • Body length is 34-53 centimeters, weigh up to 680 grams (usually 350-500)
  • Sexes look alike: silver-gray plumage (slightly paler on the underside) streaked and mottled with black and rufous.  There is also a russet-red color phase.  The eyes are yellow; the wide, heavy beak is olive-gray.  Albino frogmouths have been observed.
  • Hunt from elevated perches, pouncing onto the ground to seize prey.  They will sometimes take insects on the wing, or sit still with their mouths open, snapping shut if insects fly inside.  Larger prey is beaten to death against a branch
  • Most active by night, usually just after dusk and right before dawn
  • Main defense is to sit extremely still with the head pointed up, resembling a broken branch
  • Major threat is road accidents; frogmouths pursue the insects attracted to car headlights and are then hit by cars
  • When threatened, adults give an alarm call to the chicks, indicating they should stay motionless.  Throughout the night, they give steady grunting noises.  Couples sing drumming duets.
  • During the winter, frogmouths spend much of their time in torpor to save energy, lowering their heart rate and metabolism
  • Three subspecies: the nominate (from eastern and southern Australia), P. s. phalaenoides (northern Australia), and P. s. brachypterus (western Australia)

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