Nature conservation

Threatened species

Marbled Frogmouth - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Podargus ocellatus
Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Profile last updated: 18 Dec 2020


The Marbled Frogmouth is the smallest frogmouth, much smaller and slimmer than the Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) in NSW, with a length of 30-45 cm and a wingspan of 62-75 cm. The plumage varies from grey to rich brown or rufous-brown, delicately streaked and mottled with black and spotted or mottled with white, more heavily on the underbody. There are also obvious pale supercilia and stripes along the sides of the back, a dark stripe from the base of the bill, and a prominent tuft of cream and chestnut banded plumes protruding above the bill. The tail is long and graduated. The eyes are usually orange but range from yellow to orange-red. Great care is needed to distinguish this species from the far more common and widespread Tawny Frogmouth: the call is the best distinguishing feature, but it can also be identified by its longer and more strongly graduated tail, more finely patterned plumage and the barring of the tuft of feathers over the billl. The species has a loud bubbling, gobbling territorial call ending with a bill clap and a softer but diagnostic repeated whoor-loop contact call. Birds are usually seen singly, and during the day adopt a cryptic pose, like that of other frogmouths, when disturbed so as to appear like a tree-branch. By day, roosting birds tend to perch on a horizontal branch against the trunk of a tree.


In Australia, there are two widely separated subspecies of Marbled Frogmouth, one confined to central-eastern Cape York Peninsula, and other currently restricted to south-eastern Queensland and north-eastern NSW, between about Gladstone and Lismore, and inland to Burnett Range in Queensland and west of the Richmond Range. There are earlier records south to about Grafton, but no confirmed records south of Lismore since 1980, with most reports misidentifications of the much more common Tawny Frogmouth. Outside Australia, the species is widespread throughout New Guinea and on its associated islands, as well as on Bougainville and the Solomon Islands.

Habitat and ecology

  • Prefers subtropical rainforest, particularly in deep, wet, sheltered gullies along creeklines and often containing stands of Bangalow Palms or ferns. In NSW, it is most often found in moist, lowland, mesophyll vine forest.
  • Less often, they are found in the ecotone between rainforest and wet Eucalyptus forests, or occasionally in cool rainforest and higher elevation temperate rainforests. Arely in wet eucalypt forest.
  • The Marbled Frogmouth is, like other frogmouths, nocturnal, hunting at night and roosting by day.
  • The diet consists mainly of large nocturnal insects. They hunt from large perches, such as stumps or low branches, and sallying out to take their prey from the ground or from the foliage of plants.
  • Birds breed from about August to December. The usual clutch is one, but is sometimes two eggs.
  • Both parents incubate the eggs.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Other StateQLD Known None
South Eastern QueenslandBurringbar-Conondale Ranges Known None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Lowlands Known North of Ballina township
South Eastern QueenslandScenic Rim Known None
South Eastern QueenslandSunshine Coast-Gold Coast Lowlands Predicted None
South Eastern QueenslandWoodenbong Known None