Tawny Frogmouth

Tawny Frogmouth

Scientific Classification

Common Name
tawny frogmouth
Genus Species
Podargus strigoides

Fast Facts

Tawny frogmouths have wide, frog-like mouths to capture insects. Their bill is large, horny, triangular, and sharply hooked. Their legs are very short and they have small, weak feet. They are slow and deliberate in their movements, and are the weakest fliers in the order. They have rounded, medium-length wings. Their plumage is mottled grayish-brown with darker streaks. There is little to no sexual dimorphism.
22.5 to 52.5 cm (9 to 21 in.)
180 to 680 g (6.3 to 24 oz)
Fish, amphibians, crustaceans, and insects
30 days
Clutch Size
1 to 2 eggs
Sexual Maturity
Less than 12 months
Life Span
10 years in managed conditions
This species has an extremely large range and can be found in Australia and Tasmania.
These birds can be found in forests and scrubland, with a special preference for open eucalyptus woodlands.
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is reported to be generally common. Scientists believe that there are at least 10,000 mature individuals. The population appears to be stable and is not severely fragmented.
IUCN: Least Concern
CITES: No data
USFWS: No data

Fun Facts

Tawny frogmouths nest in trees, usually in the fork of horizontal branches. Their nests are made of sticks, and sometimes padded with their own feathers, which they camouflage with lichen, moss, and spider webs. Both parents incubate the clutch. When hatched, the young are covered with down and remain in the nest until able to fly.

Often mistaken for owls, these unique birds are part of the nightjar, nighthawks, and whippoorwill family.

Their unusual appearance serves as effective camouflage during the day while perching in trees.

During the day, these birds usually sleep in a sedentary position. When disturbed, they raise their head and stiffen their body, simulating a branch. This behavior is called "stumping."

These birds may emit a soft warning buzz, similar to a bee, when startled.

These birds are normally monogamous, communicating with a low, grunting "oom-oom-oom" call.

Ecology and Conservation

Tawny frogmouths are abundant throughout their range, but are often killed or injured on the roads during feeding.

They are at high risk of exposure to pesticides as they have adapted to living in close proximity to human populations.

Tawny frogmouths can be preyed upon by cats, dogs, and foxes.

The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.


Queensland Museum. Wildlife of Greater Brisbane. Queensland Museum, Brisbane, 1995.

Reader's Digest Services. Reader's Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds. Surry Hills, NSW, 1979.

Strahan, R. (Ed.). Cuckoos, Nightbirds and Kingfishers of Australia. The National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife. Angus and Robertson, 1994.


BirdLife International. 2016. Podargus strigoides. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22689580A93237832. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22689580A93237832.en. Downloaded on 16 January 2019.

Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) Fact Sheet. c2019. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed 2020 Mar 2]. http://ielc.libguides.com/sdzg/factsheets/tawny-frogmouth.