Harassed Frogmouth in Box Hill

Subject: Harassed Frogmouth in Box Hill
From: Chris Corben <>
Date: Mon, 05 Sep 2011 07:22:52 -0500
On 09/05/2011 12:08 AM,  wrote:
extremely agitated.  The source of the agitation was a lone Tawny Frogmouth
trying to catch a few ZZZZs.

The Frogmouth was perched on a relatively thin branch in a Willow Myrtle
and didn't look at all like the usual broken branch stub.  The Butcherbirds

A couple of points arise from this. Firstly, I have never seen any evidence of Frogmouths sleeping. As far as I can tell, they are always awake and alert. I have watched them under a great variety of circumstances both in the wild and in captivity, and I have never seen one which seemed asleep.

I have seen plenty of other birds which appeared to be asleep and were clearly unaware of things going on around them. But I don't know what sleep means to a bird, and if there is a range of states which they can be in, or how different groups of birds vary in this respect.

The second point is that the usual stance of a resting Frogmouth during the day is just what it is at night, with the bird perched on a branch in a relaxed pose which doesn't differ profoundly from what other birds do. The "broken branch" pose is what they do when they are on the alert to a perceived threat. If you watch a resting Frogmouth from a distance, you can see it strike that pose when a hawk flies by, or a person walks near the bird. Once the threat is past, the Frogmouth relaxes again.

As an aside, decades ago Jack Pettigrew explained how Frogmouths have two different kinds of vision, resulting from swiveling the eyeballs in their sockets so they can either have a very wide field of vision with limited overlap between eyes, or they can look forwards with binocular vision. If you walk around a Frogmouth in its broken branch pose, you can often see this distinction, as the bird will follow you with one eye and will subtly turn its head to keep you in view with just one eye through a narrow slit. Then at some point, it will suddenly turn to face you and look straight at you with both eyes forward, giving an Owly look.

Frogmouths are great birds!

Cheers, Chris.


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