Tuesday, October 2, 2007

podargus strigoides

Otherwise known as the Tawny Frogmouth, they are nocturnal and owl-like in appearance. Tawny Frogmouths are often confused with owls, but are actually more closely related to the nightjars. Their feet are weak and lack the curved talons of owls.

During the day, the Tawny Frogmouth perches on a tree branch, often low down, camouflaged as part of the tree. They lift up their heads and close their eyes to slits and seem to deliberately choose trees that give them the best camouflage. They remain still even when we come close to them, but keep track of where we are with a very slow rotation of the head and slight opening of the eyes. Their camouflage may let them down especially with introduced predators such as foxes and cats.

The bulk of the Tawny Frogmouth’s diet is made up of nocturnal insects, worms, slugs and snails. Small mammals, reptiles, frogs and birds are also eaten. Most food is obtained by pouncing to the ground from a tree or other elevated perch. Some prey items, such as moths, are caught in flight, which has led to many unfortunate instances of birds being hit by cars while chasing insects illuminated in the beam of the headlights.

Tawny Frogmouths breed mainly from August to December. Both sexes incubate the two or three eggs. The male sits during the day, but both sexes share sitting at night. The nest is a loose platform of sticks, which is usually placed on a horizontal forked tree branch. Tawny Frogmouths mate for life.

We have a pair of them living just outside our house. As yet we haven’t found a nest but will be looking closely throughout the next few months.

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