National Aquarium – Tawny frogmouth

Tawny Frogmouth

Podargus strigoides


The tawny frogmouth's coloring mimics tree bark, so it can blend in with its woodland environment.

Exhibit Name and Location:
Baltimore - Animal Planet Australia Wild Extremes

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National Aquarium – Tawny frogmouth National Aquarium – Tawny frogmouth National Aquarium – Tawny frogmouth

Tawny Frogmouth

The tawny frogmouth is often mistaken for an owl. These birds have a very unique appearance and are actually a part of the nightjar and whippoorwill family. 

They are nocturnal and utilize their very large, frog-like mouth to catch insects and small rodents. 

Their mottled brown and gray plumage mimics bark coloration, allowing them to blend into their open woodland habitat. 

By day, they perch very still in trees with their heads stretched in a lengthening upward position and their eyes opened just a small slit allowing them to detect movement in their surroundings. This posture allows them the camouflaged appearance of a stump or extension of a dead branch. 

They also have the ability to assume an intimidating posture where they appear much larger than they actually are by standing their feathers up over their head and body and eyes wide opened and beak gapped. 

 They can be fairly sedentary and wait for prey to come to them or by going to the ground and waiting. 

The feather tufts above the beak may aid in catching insects and the collection rain water for drinking. 

Here at the National Aquarium, we have one tawny frogmouth who visits the Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes exhibit. He is stationed on exhibit for a short part of the day while he sleeps, and returns to his overnight housing in the afternoon, where he can be most active at night.  

Because of his amazing ability to camouflage, he may be hard to see, you will have to look hard to see if you spot him! Ask an exhibit guide if you can't spot him.

“Mr. Froggy” is hand-fed small pieces of meat formulated specifically for a bird of prey, along with live insects that are either hand fed to him, or broadcasted for him to have to pounce and catch himself. 

In the wild, these birds receive the majority of their hydration from their diet and from the rains. Although our tawny frogmouth is provided with a water bowl, aviculture staff do not observe him drinking from it; therefore staff provide him regular spray baths to mimic the rain.

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A Note From the Caretaker

Mr. Froggy hatched in 1998 at the Maryland Zoo and joined the Aquarium in 2003. You can see him on exhibit between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.