Tawny Frogmouth

(Podargus strigoides)

  • Animal Type


  • Exhibits

    Not currently on exhibit.

  • Range



Australia’s nocturnal tawny frogmouth is often mistaken for an owl, but it’s actually part of the nightjar family, which also includes nighthawks and whip-poor-wills. By day, tawny frogmouths perch in trees, remaining perfectly still with their heads stretched upward and their eyes just barely open to detect movement around them.

When threatened, the feathers all over their head and body stand up, and their eyes and beak open wide. This makes them appear much larger than they are to intimidate predators.

A Note From the Caretaker

These birds stay hydrated through the foods they eat and through rain. In addition to a steady diet of insects and other juicy treats, the tawny frogmouth at the National Aquarium is provided with regular spray baths to mimic rain.

Quick Facts

Learn more about the tawny frogmouth! The tawny frogmouth's mottled brown and gray plumage resembles tree bark, which helps it blend in with its woodland environment.

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

Tawny frogmouths primarily eat nocturnal insects—moths, centipedes, worms, spiders, slugs and snails. They also feed on small rodents, reptiles, frogs and birds.

These birds typically reach 13 to 20 inches. They’re stocky, with big heads and short legs. Their tails are long and rounded, while their beaks are wide and heavy.

Tawny frogmouths are common in their range.

Carpet pythons and large mammals like foxes and feral cats prey upon these birds. Humans and their cars also pose a threat—tawny frogmouths often chase insects illuminated by headlights and are hit as a result.

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