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What Australian Native Birds are in your Backyard?

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by Anne Dignam (subscribe)
I am a amateur freelance writer from Sydney. My passion is Aboriginal history, Australia and its unusual places. My aim is to share my knowledge to better your experience. Thank you
Published October 2nd 2013
Living in Sydney, we see the everyday beauty that nature delivers with plants, flowers and native animals. Recently we witnessed a mother tawny frogmouth knock her chick out of the nest. Unfortunately the mother would not attend to the chick that couldn't fly.

My lucky son got to hold the chick

It was only young and had no feathers under its wings. My neighbour took it in and my son was one of the very few lucky ones who got to hold the scared tawny frogmouth.


It is now in care of WIRES who hopefully will return the Australian native tawny frogmouth back to the wild when it can defend itself. It was nicked named George - watch out for that tree - of the Jungle.

Nightjar image from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AAP065A.jpg

Is the tawny frogmouth an owl?, No, they are, an Australian species bird found in Australia and Southern New Guinea. Tawny frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) is known by some as a mopoke, as that is the noise they make at night. They are a cousin of the owl family and more closely linked to nightjars and oilbirds.

Oilbird image from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Oilbirds.jpg

The tawny frogmouth is a bird often mistaken for an owl.

Mask owl image from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Masked_owl_mask4441.jpg

In 1801 English naturalist John Latham describes the tawny as a Latin "strix" owl belonging to the frogmouth family, which has been around for 56 million years.

Excellent camoflauge

[ADVERT]Their feathers, especially on the chicks, are so fluffy and soft and yet they camouflage them, blending in with the bark colour on the trees; in fact they sit almost statue like and sometimes can look like a branch. They catch their prey at at night, eating insects and on the odd occasion frogs and other small prey. Very occasionally they will drop to the ground to catch food but more often than not, they will not exhaust themselves.

During the day the tawny frogmouth will rest in a branch or a log. They are sometimes seen during the day resting with their wings spread out. Cooling down or feeling threatened they will freeze, with their mouth open, showing a lemon coloured intimidating wide mouth. When threatened, they also make a series of clacking sounds reverberating the tree tops.

Tawny Frogmouth Chick with is yellow lemon intimidating beak open

They are a beautiful representation of our Australian native bird species. The tawny frogmouth's beak is very strong. They catch their food by beak rather than talons, making them different from from the owl species.

The tawny frogmouth is a bit of a clever bird. It waits for its prey to come to them and then with excellent hearing and eyesight, and a swift beak action, dinner is served right to them.


There is little difference between male and females, and are only 35 to 53 centimetres long and weigh up to 680 grams in the wild. Tawny frogmouths and owls both have anisodactyl feet, referring that one toe is facing backwards and the other three face forwards.

Owls have stronger feet as they use them to catch their feed. The pair of tawnys stay together, a perfect marriage, till death do we part. They lay a few eggs on the green leaves in the nest and share the nesting duties for 25 days. In fact the tawny frogmouth male, does it all including sharing the feeding duties.


In situations like ours when a bird, especially a native bird, falls from its nest or is rejected by its parents, please ring WIRES. If the bird is injured, place it in a covered box on a towel in a quiet section of the house and await further instructions from WIRES. Please do not feed or allow the bird to drink during this time unless WIRES have instructed. Birds of all species do not do well with shock. If the bird is not injured, please keep an eye on the bird from predators and try to coax the mother down next to the chick.

What native birds are in your backyard?
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We have tame King Parrots that feed out of your hands, lots of Bush Turkeys, Rosellas. Rainbow Lorikeets, Powerful Owls, Barking Owls, Southern Boobook, Sulfur Crested Cockatoos, Galahs, Gang Gang Cockatoos and a type of hawk regularly in my backyard. We are close to the Lane Cove National Park.
by Cornelia Deller (score: 2|182) 2980 days ago
Spotted Dove nesting in the gardenia - 2 eggs
by deco8 (score: 1|13) 2965 days ago
A flock of Yellow Tail Black Cockatoos fly over our street every morning at 7.30 am. King Parrots near my local Tennis courts, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Rainbow Lorikeets, Kookaburra's, we've got most parrots and the Scrub Turkeys visit on the odd occasion. BELROSE NSW
The 'squark' is different in all parrots. A great sound at any time of the day.
by Gloria (score: 2|487) 1284 days ago

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