Timing of Frogmouth breeding 2017

To: Martin Butterfield <>, canberra birds <>
Subject: Timing of Frogmouth breeding 2017
From: Stuart Rae <>
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2017 04:16:49 +0000

Here are a few shots of the earliest brood of frogmouths in my study area to leave the nest - six weeks later for comparison. Still dependent on their parents. Follow link:


On 25 November 2017 at 02:57, Stuart Rae <> wrote:

That will be a re-lay after the birds losing their first brood.

I have not seen birds rear two broods, although I have had one report of such from Melbourne. That should be an OK record as I know the person, however, I am not entirely convinced as they can re-lay after losing fledglings, and as you know that can be a month after leaving the nest as they are dependent for so long. But many species of bird can rear two broods in a year if time allows. In the Canberra area, the season is too short. I go around my sites in summer, jan/february or even later, to record the nest site details, so if there were any second broods, they would have to be visible then. I have not seen any. The latest broods to fledge have been in early February.

Birders often use the term second brood for events that are actually re-lays, and I suspect that some of these anecdotes have become fact after repetition in books including HANZAB. 

The birds are selecting cooler shady perches now that it is warming up. Such as a brood I re-photographed this morning, they are now well-grown as they were the earliest to hatch this year. I'll blog them later.


On 25 November 2017 at 02:09, Martin Butterfield <> wrote:
Thanks for that Stuart.  During the past week I received this from an observer in Wanniassa;  
"Since your foster children are tawnies, I have a quick question for you.  A pair nested in a big tree with rough bark not far from my house.  On 23 October I photographed a parent and well grown chick on the nest.  A week or 10 days later the nest was empty, and two frogmouths were perched on nearby branches in the same tree.  Today, about just one month after the photograph, an adult is back on the nest.  Have tawny frogmouths been known to nest more than once in a season?  Mum didn’t waste much time if that is the case"  

I replied:
I have never seen any indication of a second brood with our family.  The chicks are normally with the parents until about Christmas then I can't find them for January and most of February.  When the adults return they have never gone to the nest site.
I consulted HANZAB and that says that two broods are known in northern Australia, but 1 brood is the normal situation in the South.  They do say that Stephen Debus (a very expert birder) has recorded 1 double brood near Sydney.  My thinking is that a month after fledging is too soon for a second brood and the current occupant of the nest is just there coincidentally.  However I would keep an eye on the nest and if the bird appears to be staying there a message to the chatline would be appropriate 

Your note makes me wonder if re-nesting is more common than indicated in HANZAB .


On 25 November 2017 at 12:59, Stuart Rae <> wrote:
Thanks for this snippet Martin,

These incubation and fledging days are similar to to what I have found. When there are three chicks, the fledging takes a few more days again, possibly even another week as in one wet period. Single chicks take about 30 days.

This is all from memory, I would have to go through all the records to get it detailed. About thirty pairs have fledged their chicks now, some have failed as usual, and about ten more to fledge, mostly re-lays.


On 21 November 2017 at 18:51, Martin Butterfield <> wrote:
The family of Frogmouths at our garden have left the nest this morning.  I observed one chick take its first flight (10 metres) at 20:09 last night and the other must have left after it became too dark to see.

They were very late starting to build the nest this year (6 September vs a modal date of 21 August) but caught up a bit with quick nest building (14 days vs an average of 16.5 days).  Since then processes have been pretty much on average.   Incubation was 28 days as it has been for 5 of the 8 years for which I have records (1 years of 27 days and 2 of 29 days) and the chicks were in the nest for 35 days rather than an average of 34 days (excluding last year which was a very long 41 days - I think a reflection of a very wet Winter). 



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