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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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 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.


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.

The American bullfrog’s natural range extends from Nova Scotia to central Florida, from the Atlantic coast to Wisconsin, and across the Great Plains to the Rockies.

Bullfrogs are highly esteemed for the meat on their hind legs, which is consumed in the U.S. and abroad. A desire for frog legs for human consumption has led to the deliberate introduction of the species to aquatic habitats in the western U.S., Hawaii, and numerous foreign countries.

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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A Note From the Caretaker

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.