Help keep the tawny frogmouth safe in your local area
This bird is so perfectly camouflaged during the day that it may be living near you, without you ever noticing it.
That's right! To avoid detection during the day, tawny frogmouths sit upright, completely motionless on branches in trees, with their heads tilted up and eyes closed to slits. Their plumage is finely streaked and mottled in grey and brown, and in this posture the birds look just like broken branches.
If a frogmouth is disturbed, it may adopt a threatening pose, fluffing out its feathers, showing its wide orange eyes and opening its beak in a wide froglike gape to reveal its yellow throat, hoping to appear intimidating.
You might not see tawny frogmouths during the day, but you could hear them at night. They have a low, humming 'ooom-ooom-ooom' call, which sounds like this (MP3 - 300KB).
At night, tawny frogmouths eat insects like moths, which they may catch in flight around streetlights and garden lights. They also sit on branches and scan for movement, ready to drop to the ground to catch worms, slugs, snails. Occasionally they eat mice and frogs.
You can help look after tawny frogmouths in your area
Our backyards and neighbourhoods can be good homes for tawny frogmouths if we do a few simple things to help them stay safe. Step one is to find out what frogmouths do and don’t like.
What tawny frogmouths like and dislike
Tawny frogmouths love:
- Trees to roost in - the birds colouring blends well with the bark of many gum trees.
- Safe nesting sites - they build a loose platform of twigs lined with green leaves in branches 5 to 15 m above the ground.
- Eating garden pests - moths, slugs, snails and mice are favourites.
But they don’t like:
- Being disturbed - Cats and dogs may frighten or attack a frogmouth when it comes to ground to feed at night.
- Garden pesticides - which may poison the birds if they eat contaminated insects and slugs.
- Be a tawny frogmouth buddy.
- Listen out for the tawny frogmouth's call (MP3 - 300KB) on a still and silent night to discover if you have one in your area.
- Keep mature trees in your backyard, streets and parks, and plant new gum trees if you have room.
- Keep cats and dogs indoors at night to prevent attacks.
- Be alert when driving at night, as the birds may fly down to seize moths illuminated by car headlights.
- Using pesticides or snail baits where frogmouths feed, as they love to eat snails, slugs and moths.
Don’t be surprised if:
- You think you can hear a frogmouth living near you, but never see it.
- A tawny frogmouth silently glides by to eat insects fluttering around outside lights.
- You see one at night sitting on or low to the ground, even on the road.
- You struggle to see one in the day, even when pointed out to you.
Tawny frogmouth call courtesy of Nature Sound
Page last updated: 27 February 2011