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National Aquarium – Tawny frogmouth

Tawny Frogmouth

Podargus strigoides

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

The tawny frogmouth is often mistaken for an owl. These nocturnal birds have a very unique appearance and are actually a part of the nightjar and whippoorwill family. 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 that makes them appear much larger than they actually are by standing their feathers up over their head and body with eyes wide open and beak gapped.

Did You Know?

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


Tawny frogmouths live off a diet of nocturnal insects, such as moths and centipedes, as well as worms, spiders, slugs and snails. They also eat small rodents, reptiles, frogs and birds.


These birds grow to reach 13 to 20 inches in length. They’re stocky, with big heads; long, rounded tails; short legs; and wide, heavy beaks.


This species is found throughout most of mainland Australia, as well as Tasmania.

Population Status

Tawny frogmouths are common in their range.


Carpet pythons and large ground predators—such as feral cats, dogs and foxes—prey upon these birds. Cars also pose a threat; tawny frogmouths often chase after insects illuminated by headlights, resulting in collisions.

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