Not an owl!

©Getty Images

©Getty Images

The tawny frogmouth is often thought to be an owl, but is in fact related to birds called nightjars. There are 14  species, or kinds, of frogmouth.

Habitat and Distribution (where they are found)

Tawny frogmouths are commonly seen throughout Australia, but not in rainforests or deserts. They prefer open eucalyptus and acacia woodland.

Appearance and Behaviours

Tawny frogmouths do not have strong talons (claws) like owls. Males and females look alike, and are 35-50 cm long.They have yellow eyes and a wide beak topped with a tuft of bristly feathers. They make loud clacking sounds with their beaks and their call sounds like drumbeats.

Their camouflage is excellent. ©Getty Images

Their camouflage is excellent. ©Getty Images

Owls fly around at night hunting food, but tawny frogmouths generally remain sitting very still on a low perch, and wait for food to come to them. They catch prey with their beaks, and sometimes drop from their perch onto the prey on the ground.

Tawny frogmouths hunt at night and spend the day roosting on a dead log or tree branch close to the tree trunk.  Their camouflage is excellent - staying very still and upright, they look just like part of the branch.

Diet

The tawny frogmouth feeds on rats, mice, cicadas, beetles, frogs and other small prey. They catch their prey with their beaks rather than with their talons, another way in which they are different from owls.

©Getty Images

©Getty Images

Life Cycle

Tawny frogmouth pairs stay together until one of the pair dies. They breed from August to December.  They usually use the same nest each year, and must make repairs to their loose, untidy platforms of sticks.  After mating with the male, the female lays two or three eggs onto a lining of green leaves in the nest.  Both male and female take turns sitting on the eggs to incubate them until they hatch about 30 days later. Both parents help feed the chicks. The chicks do not mess up the nest - they move to the edge of the nest and direct their droppings over the edge.  About 25 days after hatching, the chicks are ready to leave the nest and lead their own lives.

Young tawny frogmouths ©Getty Images

Young tawny frogmouths ©Getty Images

©Getty Images

©Getty Images

Conservation Status and Threats

Tawny frogmouths are listed as being Of Least Concern.

The main threat to them is being killed on the road. Tawny frogmouths are attracted to insects, and insects are attracted to car headlights. This results in tawny frogmouths gliding down and crashing into a car and being killed.  

 

Read more about Tawny Frogmouths:

http://australianmuseum.net.au/Tawny-Frogmouth

Read the kidcyber page:

Birds