Tawny Frogmouth at the Louisville Zoo

Tawny Frogmouth

Order: Caprimulgiformes
Family: Podargidae
Genus: Podargus
Species: strigoides

Australia and Tasmania.


19 inches.


  • The sexes are alike.
  • Breeding season is from August to December.
  • They always nest in trees, usually in fork of a horizontal branch.
  • Some make a frail stick platform, others a pad of their own feathers camouflaged with lichens, mosses and spider webs.
  • One or two white eggs are laid and incubated for 30 days by both sexes, the female by night and the male by day.
  • The young are covered with long white down feathers.
  • They remain in the nest until they are able to fly (approximately 30 days after hatching).
  • Both male and female care for the young.

Wild: Feeds on crawling invertebrates such as beetles, centipedes, scorpions, caterpillars and occasionally mice and geckos.
Zoo: Mice.


  • Nocturnal.
  • During the day they sleep perched upright on a stump or among the large branches of a tree with their heads up and their eyes closed.
  • Their cryptically mottled brown and gray color, so matches the branch that they look like part of it and are almost impossible to see.
  • A ground feeder, the Tawny watches quietly from a stump or branch until it spots its prey then it silently flutters down on it.
  • If alarmed they freeze in position and sometimes make a buzzing sound like a bee.
  • If surprised at its nest the frogmouth fluffs out its feathers to make itself appear much larger and snaps at the intruder with its large bill.
  • They are weak fliers.



  • They have rounded, moderate length wings, short legs and have small feet with a comb on the underside of the middle toenail.
  • It is thought to be for dressing the feathers.
  • They have large, flat, horny, triangular, sharply hooked bills with tremendous gaping mouths fringed with bristles.
  • When open, these huge mouths disclose a colored lining which may attract insects.
  • They are a type of goatsucker. This name comes from a mistaken belief that with their huge mouths, they milked goats at night.
  • Their soft, fluffy plumage resembles that of their nearest relatives, the owls.
  • They have two color phases (red and gray).
  • Their call is a grunting “oom-oom” repeated through the night