marbled & tawny frogmouths

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Subject: marbled & tawny frogmouths
From: "Greg Roberts" <>
Date: Sat, 11 Sep 2010 21:01:57 +1000
This evening I had good views of a male Marbled Frogmouth near my home in
the Sunshine Coast hinterland. It got me thinking of problems than can arise
with separating this species from Tawny Frogmouth in the field. Although
their calls are very different, and most frogmouths are quickly identifiable
if seen well, some individuals can be problematic.
A couple of weeks ago I saw a frogmouth in the company of some interstate
birders which I identified initially as a Tawny, then a Marbled, and later
we agreed it was back to Tawny. This bird was very close to where I saw
tonight's Marbled and in similar rainforest edge habitat. The two species
are of similar size and can share similar habitat, although Tawny is unusual
deep inside rainforest. The male Marbled also shares the Tawny's general
greyish colouration (the female Marbled is much browner) and the two species
have fine black streaking on the underparts. The Tawny referred to here had
some classic fieldguide Marbled features - deep orange eyes, barred and
extended plumes above the bill and a broad pale supercilium - hence the
confusion. A key feature is pale blotching on the underparts of Marbled,
obvious on the bird tonight but not always so unless it is close. Tawny
appears to be more streaked on the upperparts, especially about the head,
while the supercilium on Marbled appears to be more sharply defined. In the
spotlight with frogmouths and nightjars, however, all these features can
potentially be a little wobbly. The lesson here is to be wary of the
Also tonight were Southern Boobook, Owlet-Nightjar and an albino Greater
Greg Roberts

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