Tawny frogmouth

(Podargus strigoides)

Habitat and Distribution: Found in open forests and eucalyptus woods throughout Australia and Tasmania.

Size: 13-21 inches tall

Wild Diet: Primarily insects; also scorpions, snails, frogs, small lizards, birds, mice, and some fruit.

Predators: Foxes, domestic cats and dogs, and birds of prey. They are also frequently hit by cars.

Reproduction: Tawny frogmouths mate for life. Pairs breed in spring (August-December in the southern hemisphere) and lay 2 eggs in a loose nest of twigs, usually in a eucalyptus tree. Both parents help incubate the eggs, which takes 30 days. The young fledge 25-35 days after hatching.

Behavior: Tawny frogmouths live in nests constructed of sticks, padded with their own feathers, and camouflaged with lichen, moss, and spider webs. When threatened, they freeze, compact their plumage, close their eyes to slits, and extend their heads--making them look remarkably like a broken branch. This behavior is called "stumping." If pressed further, they flush or turn on their attacker and snap their bill. Their call is a repeated "oom-oom-oom."


IUCN Status: Least Concern

The tawny frogmouth is widespread over a long range and its populations are stable.

Did you know?

  • Tawny frogmouths have whisker-like feathers around their mouths that help locate and trap prey.
  • They are sometimes confused for owls, but they are actually part of the order Caprimulgiformes (including nightjars, nighthawks, and whippoorwills), while owls belong to the order Strigiformes.