Papuan Frogmouth: Fact File

close up of papuan frogmouth with red eyes

The Papuan Frogmouth… is it an owl? Is it a frog? Hint: it’s neither. 

The Papuan Frogmouth (Podargus papuensis) is actually a nocturnal bird that belongs to a family called Nightjars. It is the largest Frogmouth in terms of length and can be easily confused to the Tawny Frogmouth, a very similar species. The easiest way to distinguish a Papuan Frogmouth from other Frogmouths is its large red eyes and bulbous bill.

Although the Papuan Frogmouth is quite common, their incredible camouflage skills makes them hard to spot to even the sharpest pair of eyes. This master of disguise has mottled brown, grey and beige patterned feathers, that blend seamlessly into tree bark. Alongside this, they remain motionless and often perch with their head held upwards. This bird is often confused for a tree stump or branch! How’s that for avoiding predators?

papuan frogmouth at cairns zoom and wildlife dome

These monogamous birds mate for life and there are a few ways to distinguish the male bird from the female. Male birds tend to be around 414g, whereas females weigh a smaller 314g. Alongside this, males tend to have darker and more marbled feathers, whereas females tend to be more reddish-brown in hue.

Although Papuan Frogmouths are commonly mistaken for owls, they lack the sharp beak and talons of owls.

close up of papuan frogmouth with red eyes

Habitat

These birds can be found in North-East Australia between Townsville and Cooktown and also in Papau New Guinea. They dwell in moist, lowland forests and be found perching alone or in groups at various heights.

cairns zoom and wildlife dome bird show with papuan frogmouth

Hunting & Diet

Their diet mostly consists of insects, but they also will eat mice, frogs or small reptiles.

This nocturnal bird has some pretty impressive hunting techniques. They may have their name-sake for having a mouth like a frog, but their beak is also bright yellow on the inside. Whilst hunting, Papuan Frogmouths open their mouth to reflect the moonlight and insects are attracted to the vibrant yellow hue.

Meet Gomez The Papuan Frogmouth

gomez the papuan frogmouth greeting bird at cairns zoom and wildlife dome+

Gomez the Papuan Frogmouth lives at Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome with his pal Fergus. He has just began his new job as our new greeting bird. His moody and often-snobbish face may not be the warmest welcome from a bird, but his red eyes and unique face are sure to intrigue you. As a matter of fact, his stillness and resting angry face has convinced many of our customers that he’s not real!

Gomez also regularly stars in our 4pm Afternoon Feeding Tour, on which our keepers demonstrate his unique features and capabilities.

You can meet Gomez and Fergus the Papuan Frogmouth at Cairns Zoom. Book now.

 

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