Tawny Frogmouths at Cook - clarification

Subject: Tawny Frogmouths at Cook - clarification
From: Julian Robinson <>
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2006 12:24:52 +1000
I have to apologise for causing upset to some people by not explaining the frogmouth photos I posted here yesterday. The implication of my email and the photos was that I borrowed a ladder and climbed up to the birds and stuck a camera into their faces. This was not the case and I hasten to say that I am a basically sensitive person and would not have done anything to upset the birds.

The birds were roosting in a low branch next to a public path. Despite their proximity to the ground and the path, the birds were singularly unphased by people and other animals going by. After 15 minutes admiring them from the ground, a local resident walked by and joined me. He kindly offered me his ladder, which I used to climb up a nearby tree, on the side away from the birds. I used this to get a better view over most of the leaves and branches, and as a sort of hide. In total I watched the birds for around an hour. In that time one bird did not move once (until dark when both birds yawned and opened their eyes). The other bird was more alert and moved once when I bumped a branch of my tree while getting into position, once when a yapping dog came by (when the frogmouth adopted the dead branch look), and once when magpies and then rosellas flew into nearby trees. This last was the only time it moved quickly, turning immediately to check the other birds and remaining alert while the other birds remained. The time I bumped my branch, it turned towards me and half opened its eyes for about 30 seconds, which is when I took the photos. I was using a long telephoto lens, so was not nearly as close as implied by the photos -- at least 15-18 feet away which is about the distance to the people on the path.

If at any time it seemed I was bothering the birds I would have left immediately. Given that their reaction to me was less than to other passing animals I am confident that I did not cause them any distress. As supporting evidence I think that some of my other bird photos (on flickr) show that I can indeed be patient and unobtrusive at times.

I must say it was wonderful to watch them. My Pizzey and Knight suggests that they "roost branch-like by day". My observation was the opposite: that they normally roost in the "round" shape, and only adopt the branch shape when alarmed. I would be grateful for any ideas on the sex of these birds. They both look identically grey to me with almost no brown, so I thought they must both be males. Is this correct? Or maybe the unmoving and probably smaller bird was a younger female?

Again I apologise for alarming people, and would not like to think that I had put people off posting sightings like this.


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