Thursday, May 20, 2010


Over the past week of so, a tawny frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) has been roosting in a small, mallee-form tree at my workplace.

He/she doesn't seem to notice that there is a mismatch between the grey plumage and reddish bark of Eucalyptus caesia, but hasn't deterred the frogmouth from returning each day to the same, small fork in the tree.

Other honeyeaters in the vicinity - the little browns, the New Holland and Singing honeyeaters - made a small, half-hearted effort to mob the bird, but gave up. Obviously a frogmouth doesn't get the same mob-fest attention as a boobook owl, like this owl which made the mistake to roost in our backyard and suffered days of diurnal insomnia at the hands of angry honeyeaters.

Frogmouths are funny ol' things- they're not uncommon, they're everywhere where you get decent stands of trees and scrub, but they're difficult to spot. It took 15 minutes of pointing to alert others as to the whereabouts of this particular frogmouth, despite the colour mismatch. When disturbed, they pretend to be a branch, and their superb camouflage is the key to this strategy of crypsis. It has taken five years for my kiwi partner to finally see a live frogmouth - so he has seen one in style.

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