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Frogmouths: Podargidae

Physical Characteristics

Frogmouths received their name because their large beaks look like the mouths of frogs. Like others in the order Caprimulgiformes, frogmouths have large heads and large eyes. Members of this order are nocturnal, and their large eyes help the birds see at night. Their middle toe is longer than their other toes. Unlike other Caprimulgiformes, frogmouths do not have a toe on each foot that is serrated, separated into parts like the teeth of a comb.

Frogmouths have been said to resemble owls. While both owls and frogmouths are nocturnal, active at night, and have large eyes, there are some differences. Frogmouths have wide, curved bills. Owls have short, hooked bills. Frogmouths have short legs and small feet. Frogmouths do not have talons, the sharp claws that characterize birds of prey like owls.

Prey is the animal or plant that predators hunt for food. The bill and mouth help frogmouths capture food. Their wide-bill reveals a large gape, open mouth. Around the bill are bristles. These whisker-like hairs are believed to guide the prey into the bird's mouth.

Frogmouths have soft plumage, feathers, and weigh from 1.5 to 23.6 ounces (43 to 670 grams).

There are three species in the Australian frogmouth genus (JEE-nus; group of related animals within a family), Podargus. Feather colors include various shades of brown and gray. Patterns in the plumage such as white spots and black streaks help to camouflage birds. With this protective coloring, birds blend in with the trees where they perch. Birds range in length from 12.8 to 15.2 inches (32 to 38 centimeters). Their tails and wings are long.

The remaining ten species belong to the Asian frogmouth genus, Batrachostomus. Plumage is mostly brown on males of some species. Females are bright rufous, reddish brown. The Asian frogmouths are smaller than Australian frogmouths. The length of Asian frogmouths ranges from 9.2 to 16 inches (23 to 40 centimeters.) Most Asian species have wider bills and longer tails than their Australian relatives. Their wings are more rounded than Australian frogmouths.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsFrogmouths: Podargidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Tawny Frogmouth (podargus Strigoides): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, FROGMOUTHS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS