Tawny Frogmouth: Master of Camouflage

published on July 2, 2020


high up in australia's tree canopy lives

the grumpiest

grouchiest and surliest little assassin

in the world with giant exaggerated

features these cantankerous cranks can

disappear into their surroundings ready

to strike when the moment suits them

that's my finger yeah this is the grumpy

cat of birds the tawny frogmouth hi I'm

Daniel Defoe and you're watching

Animalia logic frog mouths are a family

of nocturnal predatory birds related to


there are 13 individual species and

they're found throughout the

indo-pacific region and I got to meet

one of the two Australian species the

tawny frogmouth I think I'm getting some

side i from this tawny frogmouth

I'm definitely getting side eye


here on Patti

so this friend here is a tawny frogmouth

and despite how much you might look like

an owl

it's not even related it's actually part

of the night jar family this is

definitely a case of convergent

evolution so they end up looking similar

but stem from completely different

lineages despite looking like an owl

that's gone through mario parties

facelift they couldn't be more different

unlike owls which have powerful talons

for grasping and tearing at prey tawny

frogmouth have gone another route see

his head is about half the size of his

body and the reason for that is because

they have gigantic mouths his beak is

actually fairly short but it's really

really wide so when he opens his beak

he's got a gigantic cavernous mouth in

there he uses that rather than using its

claws so the little claws on their feet

are not meant for hunting the way that

they hunt is all with the face this big

wide beak with a hook on the end is what

they use to scoop up and hold tight and

hold tight to their prey using their

large mouth rather than their talons


unlike owls which generally are

smash-and-grab ambush predators tawny

frogmouth let their prey primarily

insects and small mammals come to them

they prefer delivery over takeout

these birds are mimics the inside of

their mouths are bright yellow but it's

not just a sense of style its allure see

that bright yellow in the beak all of

that combined with these whisker like

feathers all around its face it's

supposed to emulate what looks like a


now what likes flowers insects but

they're not simply aggressive mimics

they also use mimicry to blend in they

have a lot of great control over the

feathers on their body and on their

heads so if they want to try and blend


they can flatten themselves out and

become extremely sleek you can see he

almost looks like a branch that's

extending off of this main branch so

they'll try and blend in with the trees

that they're sitting on to become even

more camouflaged while waiting for prey

to come to them even their coloring you

can see it's called cryptic coloring or

cryptic camouflage and that's something

that kind of mimics the environment that

they live in and it allows them to be

even less perceptible to both predators

and prey one of their most striking

features are their giant eyes so another

thing that does make them resemble owls

is the fact that they're nocturnal you

can kind of see that by the morphology

of their gigantic eyes meant to let in

as much light as possible in in

low-light conditions so they do see

incredibly well in hunt very well at

night all of these features come

together to give frog mouths incredibly

expressive faces


tawny frogmouth are the most charming

birds I think I've ever met just for how

grumpy and excited and how I don't know

how charismatic they are they look

grumpy they are actually grumpy it's


if grumpy cat was a bird it would be a

tawny frogmouth

trust me despite their apparent

malcontent tawny frogmouth have rather

adorable relationships first of all they

mate for life breeding season starts in

the spring and pears will build their

nest together but tawny frogmouth aren't

very good at building nests and males in

particular tend to just toss a bunch of

sticks together and call it a day if you

listen closely in the spring you might

hear a male tawny frogmouth say that's

one fine-looking nest why doesn't mine

look like that males and females share

parental roles and they take turns

incubating the eggs food is also

provided by both parents until the

fledglings are ready to leave the nest

at about 5 weeks of age tawny frogmouth

have a vast range and thrive across

mainland Australia and Tasmania

they prefer regions with lots of trees

but they have been seen in deserts as

well these birds are versatile because

of their vast range and adaptability

tawny frogmouth populations are stable

while they do face threats from habitat

destruction bush fires and insecticides

these grumpy little assassins are




so what animal should I talk about next

hmm please let me know in the comments

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episodes of Animal Logic every week

thanks for watching


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