No he is not an owl, he’s nothing like those big loveable oafs… say a very warm hallo to the tawny frogmouth!
Yes we suppose this chap does have a passing resemblance to an owl… an owl with a wide frog-like mouth… an owl crossed with a frog… ooh they should call it something owly-coloured frog featu… oh… hmmm… quite… this chap lives in Australia, including Tasmania and there are a few in Southern New Guinea. Though the frogmouths look like owls they are actually more closely related to the nightjars and oilbirds.
Old frog features sits in the forest at night and, well, just sits there waiting for insects to bob by. If an insect is unlucky enough to tootle past this big feathery frog-mouthed dustbin they quickly wish they hadn’t. He is a ‘sit and wait’ predator, a bit like a kingfisher sitting on a riverbank, though he is not about to get wet. Those wispy whiskery feathers around his gob are thought to detect anything that would rather not be chomped on… and help the tawny frogmouth to quickly go about ruining their day by chomping on them. Yes we know, owls eat things in the night too… but owls go about their night-time dining quite differently, they scour large areas looking for prey to skewer with their rather vicious looking feet, rather than sit on a branch waiting for something to bimble past their enormous gob.
The tawny frogmouth’s camouflage is tip-top and they exhibit a behaviour known as ‘stumping’. Though to refer to looking like a tree stump as a ‘behaviour’ is possibly a misnomer, more of a doing nothing… an anti-behaviour. Animals tend to avoid being flamboyant; which is why one rarely sees them jauntily bobbing down a street in their college blazer, loudly whistling ‘Rule Brittania’ while twirling a cane. Being all visible tends to get them into the belly of something bigger than them, or if they are big it tends to make little things avoid going anywhere near them and hence ending up in their belly… and so our animal chums have worked out all sorts of clever ways of not being visible… this is what we call crypsis.
Of course camouflage is one method, and the tawny frogmouth is an expert in this field; its feathers look exactly like tree bark. There are many other ways in which an animal may try to remain unseen or in a state of ‘crypsis’ including; only coming out at night, living underground, being see through or even doing nothing.
Doing nothing may seem an odd way to react, especially to something that is going to eat you, however it is a rather good way of not getting seen; predators on the whole are on the look out for things that … well do things. Again it is where owls differ…. they are renowned for doing things… flying about… bothering mice… looking for things that are doing things… hooting and hollering… hollering and hooting.
Owls are often doing all this hollering and hooting, generally because they are renowned imbeciles. Their huge eyes leave very little space for the grey stuff, what’s more a big slice of their tiny owly minds are devoted to processing the huge amounts of information their incredible eyes and ears pick up. Frogmouths as we know take it a bit easier, though these feathered bins have noticed that insects are attracted to those new fangled electric lamps… the problem being these new fangled electric lamps are often attached to the front of these new fangled motor cars… a behaviour which is surely about to become a rather quick lesson in survival of the fittest for these silly chaps. Aaaah finally yes something very owl-like about this character… he is an utter buffoon… and we love him for it!