Tawnies

tawny frogmouths

In mid-September I cut open my shin when I tripped over a star picket as I wandered about in the night trying to trace the source of what turned out to be a tawny frogmouth’s call.

Later I convinced myself there were two of them, but that hope proved false. There was only one, oom-oom-ooming from a regular spot on a little platform of twigs which might have been a prospective nest in the event that another bird could be attracted.

It is the male that spends most of the time incubating any eggs. Let’s say it is a he.

At first I found him in the daytime in another tree a little way away from his nightly calling-place. More recently, he has moved somewhere more obscure and only sometimes do I hear him in the little park opposite my place and not, as before, always from the one tree.

I have since heard and seen another, in Haberfield by the Hawthorne Canal. It might be the same bird trying his luck at a different spot.

Generally tawny frogmouths are considered a reasonably common bird, rarely seen merely because of their nocturnal habits and terrific camouflage in the daytime. However, given the habitat, I’d say they are relatively rare in Ashfield or the inner west of Sydney. I don’t recall seeing one since my childhood in West Pymble when there was one living in our garden, which had plenty of native trees. For that matter, we had bandicoots digging up our sole patch of lawn. I doubt that the bandicoots survive there by now.

A colleague’s sister has allowed me to post the above picture taken at her home on Sydney’s semi-rural fringe. Possibly the birds were out in the open in daylight to dry out after rain. I think of the bird on the right as dad.

(Picture © CMSH. Rights reserved. For permission, contact via me by commenting and providing reply email. Your email will not be shown here.)

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