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Tawny Frogmouth

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Tawny Frogmouth is a species of bird that kind of resembles a small owl with a longer body like most other bird species. The species they are actually most like are called Nightjars. Tawny Frogmouth lacks the strong feet and talons of the owl. Its plumage is a silver-grey hue, paler on its belly, and streaked with black marks. Their plumage can also change colors to a russet-red or maroon-like hue in another phase. With both phases, their eyes are yellow and their bill is heavy and dark. This bird species is native to Australia, but are split into two distinct species of Australian Tawny Frogmouth. The South-eastern Australian species are larger (The Papuan Frogmouth) than its northern counterparts. There are over 12 other Tawny Frogmouth species that live in New Guinea, India and other regions of the world. They are all nocturnal birds who spend their days perched low, camouflaged by a tree's foliage.

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The unnamed, other species of Australian Tawn Frogmouth is called the Marbled Frogmouth that occurs in the Northern Australian region. It has an orange-yellow eye and lives only in the rainforest far north of Queensland, however, the species does not live in the most dense rainforest. The Australian Tawny Frogmouth species in general are found in various habitat types throughout Australia.

Tawny Frogmouth diet

The majority of Tawny Frogmouth's diets are made up of protein sources such as insects, slugs, snails, and worms. They also eat larger sources of protein such as reptiles, frogs, and other bird species. They attack their prey by pouncing to the ground from a nearby tree, otherwise caught mid-air (if their prey are flying. Like a frog, the Tawny Frogmouth's tongue is long and split at the end (hence its name).

Breeding Tawny Frogmouths

Tawny Frogmouths create nests made of sticks, placed horizontally on a forked tree branch. Tawny Frogmouths have a designated breeding season, but might also breed in response to a heavy rain. The Marbled Tawny Frogmouths typically have one cluth per season, but the Papuan Tawny Frogmouths may have two. Once eggs are laid, both sexes accept the responsibility of incubation. For some reason, the male incubates the eggs during the day and both of them take shifts at night when they are most active.

Behavior

When Tawny Frogmouths feel threatened by predators, they rely on camouflaging to remain safe. Its plumage perfectly blends into the forest when it stays still, with its eyes closed and its beak pointed to the sky. If the predator comes too close to the Tawny Frogmouth, it will either take flight or open its large mouth in hopes to surprise the predator. Common predators of the species include wild foxes, and domestic cats and dogs.

We have some zoos to thank for furthering research efforts on the species, such as the San Diego Zoo. The San Diego Zoo reports that the Tawny Frogmouth can live to be as old as 10 years in captivity and 14 years in nature. They are not considered the most talkative birds, only hearing as little as a hiss or buzz if threatened or startled in captivity. Its typical call is a “Ooom-oom-oom” sound.

Endangerment Status

Although Tawny Frogmouths can sometimes be hit by cars if they are chasing a food source around busy streets and highways, but the Tawny Frogmout is listed as “Least Concern” by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).