With their nocturnal habit and owl-like appearance, Tawny Frogmouths are often confused with owls, but are actually more closely related to the nightjars. Their feet are weak however, and lack the curved talons of owls. The leading edges of the first primary (wing) feathers of the Tawny Frogmouth are fringed to allow for silent flight.
A soft, deep, continuous, ‘ooo-ooo-ooo’ sound. Bird call recorded by: Fred Van Gessel
The general plumage of the Tawny Frogmouth is silver-grey, slightly paler below, streaked and mottled with black and rufous. A second plumage phase also occurs, with birds being russet-red. The eye is yellow in both forms, and the wide, heavy bill is olive-grey to blackish. South-eastern birds are larger than birds from the north.
The Tawny Frogmouth is found throughout Australia, including Tasmania.
The Tawny Frogmouth can be seen in almost any habitat type except dense rainforests, alpine moors and treeless deserts.
Tawny Frogmouths are nocturnal (night-active) birds. During the day, they perch on tree branches, often low down, camouflaged as part of the tree.
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.
Tawny Frogmouths have a regular breeding season from August to January in temperate southern Australia, but birds in more arid areas may breed in response to heavy rains. Both sexes incubate the 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. Normally only one brood is raised in a season, but birds from the south may have two.