Tawny frogmouths (Podargus strigoides) are a captivating species of nocturnal bird that, although owl-esque in terms of aesthetics, are actually more closely related to the nightjar family. This particular species is known to reside in the Indo-Pacific region of the globe, and with its bevy of seemingly antisocial mannerisms, the tawny frogmouth can be thought of as the ‘grumpy cat’ of the bird world.
The tawny frogmouth captivates in several ways, but perhaps one of the most notable is that it can camouflage into its surroundings by appearing much like a dead branch on a tree. In fact, most animals would be hard-pressed to perceive this deceitful bird as it hides in wait for the perfect time to strike at small prey.
Tawny frogmouths don’t have the body of a hunter – they lack sharp talons or powerful beaks. What they have instead are particularly wide mouths that can capture and swallow almost anything the fits, hence their name. Using their camouflage, they wait for prey to come to them, and they use the bright yellow interior of their mouth as a lure to mimic the appearance of certain flowers. After that, they snap shut and eat their prey.
As we noted before, tawny frogmouths are nocturnal birds, and this is evident by the size of their massive eyes. They’ve evolved to let as much of the surrounding light in as possible, which enables them to see very well during the night when creatures with ordinary eyes would otherwise struggle to see.
It’s worth noting that tawny frogmouths mate for life, and the male and female share their roles in collecting food for their young. Tawny frogmouth nests aren’t quite as robust as the nests made by other types of birds, as they’re just a crudely stacked pile of sticks as opposed to a nicely laid wreath of twigs. Given their need for sticks, they prefer regions with heavy tree cover.