Birds: Papuan Frogmouth

The Papuan Frogmouth is supposed to be a nocturnal feeder, according to the hired guides we met at the Port Douglas Nature Park in Northeastern Australia. On our first morning in town our Innkeepers, Penny & Jim Ewan at the Lazy Lizard Best Western Motor Lodge, showed us one Frogmouth “sleeping” in a tree behind our guest quarters. Frogmouths only feed at night time and they also love worms…and frogs, probably. Visiting the roosting Frogmouth behind our Lazy Lizard room a few times that morning, I swapped out my pair of binoculars for a camera. His closed-eyed indicated that the bird was snoozing, so I watched and waited.

All of a sudden the bird opened his eyes. He stared straight at me, with those piercing orange eyes and dark black pupils. As his eyes look right through me, I shuttered with the cold chill of truth. He opened his eyes just once, and it was exhilarating! Snapping the one picture above, I waited. He then closed his eyes again. In the nick of time the zoom lens captured the picture with the true affect.

frogmouth 2Camouflaged Papuan Frogmouth

Frogmouths are related to a species known as nightjars and nighthawks, and tangentially to goat suckers, which fly and roost in trees from the Indian Subcontinent to Southeast Asia, Australia and the Americas. They seem to be named after their beaks, which are large and flat, with a hook in the middle.

According to tales, they have a “frog-like gape,” which doesn’t sound quiet right to me. The Papuan Frogmouth we saw had a massive flat bill, which was broad and wide, but it did not look frog-like. Their mouths are large enough to accommodate a small rodent, or reptilian invertebrate, so the name frogmouth is not too far off the mark.

We went for an evening visit at the local Nature Park and the crew let us feed the wounded Frogmouths they had in captivity. We hand-fed them meal worms, which are full of protein, apparently. That night we also helped track a nine-foot long python that was slithering in the canopy of trees overhead. There were some animals missing from the park and the staff assumed that an invader was in our midst. Little did I suspect is was a 9-foot long constricting snake.

Related image

Port Douglas Wildlife Habitat and Nature Park

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