Tawny Frogmouth

Animal Profile

Scientific name Podargus strigoides
Class Bird
Length 14-21 inches (35-53 cm)
Life span males 19 yrs, females 14 yrs in zoos
Incubation 30 days
Number of eggs 2-3 at a time
Conservation status Least concern

Where do they live?
You’ll find tawny frogmouths in the tropical forests and woodlands of Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea. At the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, you can see a tawny frogmouth in the Australian Adventure.

What goes into that frogmouth?
Tawny frogmouths eat insects, amphibians, and rodents in the wild. They mainly eat mice and large mealworms at the zoo.

What’s with the name?
Even though the tawny frogmouth will occasionally eat a frog, the name actually refers to their frog-like mouth which has a wide, flat beak with a hook at the tip. They make loud clacking sounds with their beaks and emit a reverberating booming call. Often mistaken for owls, tawny frogmouths are covered in grey feathers with black streaks and they have yellow eyes. Females have brown feathers mixed in with the grey. These birds have short, weak legs and a long, pointed tail.

Hunting after dark
Tawny frogmouths hunt by searching the ground for food, and they are most active at night. During the day, you can see them sleeping on tree branches near the tree trunk. When in trees, tawny frogmouths hide from predators by raising their beaks up in the air and keeping their bodies completely still. This makes them look just like a broken tree branch instead of like a bird.

A frogmouth family
Young tawny frogmouths are born in flimsy stick nests where they are raised by both mother and father. They usually use the same nest each year, and make routine repairs to their nest. After mating the female lays two or three eggs onto a lining of green leaves in the nest. Both parents take turns sitting on the eggs to incubate them until they hatch about 30 days later, and both parents help feed the chicks. Tawny frogmouth pairs stay together until one of the pair dies.