At the zoo: in Bird World
In the wild: found in a variety of habitats throughout Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea such as rainforests, eucalyptus forests and even urban parks
At the zoo: mice, crickets, mealworms, and waxworms
In the wild: centipedes, scorpions, frogs, mice, lizards, snails
Generally found alone or in twos, but have been seen in larger groups up to five individuals.
Meet Rory the tawny frogmouth (Podargus strigoides). Rory is very charismatic and constantly talks to his keepers while they are feeding and cleaning in a cackling manner. He occasionally will take a bath in the mist when the keepers are cleaning by spreading his wings and moving around to get the best mist angle. Some tawny frogmouths use camouflage to disappear but Rory always makes his presence known with his voice and big personality.
Camouflage is the most important and impressive physical trait the tawny frogmouths possess. They perch in trees during the day and stretch out their necks so that they resemble a branch in the tree. Their feathers blend in very well and give the appearance of bark. The trait that gives them their name is their mouth. It is very wide and deep with a yellow color on the inside and resembles a frog’s mouth. They also have a similar golden color in their eyes.
Tawny frogmouths are from Australia and are found across most of the mainland, Tazmania and some nearby islands. Even though they are stable in the wild according to IUCN, they still face concerns. The main threat is insecticides and rodent poisons. Tawny frogmouths are insectivorous and occasionally eat small rodents too. When they eat insects and rodents that have been poisoned, they could die from the toxins as well. They also frequently land on the ground when they are hunting and do not have a fast take-off to return to the trees. This makes them a target for foxes and cats.
Tawny frogmouths are often mistaken for owls due to their appearance even though they are more closely related to the nightjar family (Caprimulgiformes). Tawny frogmouths are different from owls in many ways. They do not have strong legs and talons like owls do. They typically catch their prey with their beak and owls use their talons. Owls’ eyes face forward where the tawny frogmouth eyes are on the sides of their heads. Tawny frogmouths are also most active at dusk and dawn or crepuscular unlike owls that are more active throughout the night or nocturnal.
Come visit Rory and his mate Shelly in the first room on Bird World. Look closely and you will most likely see them camouflaged behind the tree near the front.