Kym Kilpatrick

Tawny Frogmouths (Podargus strigoides) are common night-time visitors to our gardens and can sometimes be spotted during the daytime doing their best to look like tree branches! 

They particularly love stringy bark and other rough bark trees for that reason. They are often mistaken for owls but differ in that they don’t have strong talons and actually belong to the nightjar family. They fly silently because of their soft edges to their feathers.

In our area we also get the Marbled Frogmouth (Podargus ocellatus), which have chestnut and russet colourings rather than the deep grey of the Tawny. Marbled Frogmouths are rainforest dependent whilst Tawnies like open eucalyptus woodlands territories. Just to add to the confusion though some female Tawnies in our area are more chestnut in colour. Tawnies’ calls are a soft “Ooom Ooom”

They mate for life and in zoos have been known to live for 30 years. They breed in spring and summer and will often use the same nesting tree year after year, raising one to three offspring, or in a good year, four young on fairly flimsy platform nests.

They need to gorge up in summer because in winter when there is less food they may go into a ‘torpor’ state or hibernation where their heart rate and metabolism slows. WHY

They eat all kinds of insects, snails and slugs, and will also take small mammals such as mice and rats. Sadly some Tawnies get hit by cars as they chase moths across roads. They are also vulnerable to secondary poisoning, either from poisoned baited mice or rats, or from insecticides and snail poisons. So if you want these wonderful birds in your backyard, please avoid using these chemicals and poison baits.

They can sit like statues, unseen, during the day. But on a still night, the flash of a silent shadow and the soft “ooom” call might just be one of your neighbours on the night time prowl.

Contact Fawna in you find injured creatures  65814141.  If you want to volunteer (we are desperately short of volunteers) or make donations go to the FAWNA webpage at

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