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Tawny Frogmouth

Podargus strigoides

One of the most common birds that comes into care with TVWC is the nocturnal Tawny Frogmouth, part of the Nightjar family, and not an owl or raptor as sometimes mistakenly thought.

In the Spring we get inundated by Tawny chicks. Why? Because they are rather poor nest-builders as parents – just a couple of sticks thrown together!

For Tawny chicks, high winds and the time when they are about to take their first steps out of the nest, can be treacherous. The nests are usually built many metres up a Tallowwood or other eucalypt. Getting them back into the nest is just not possible.

If they are already flying a little, carers will try to put them back up on high boughs and keep a watch out for mum and dad to come and feed them. They often do, but this was not the case with these two youngsters in care with Jan.

These two Tawnies – Bill and Bob – were still fluff balls, nestlings that could not yet perch, when their nest came down on a windy day.

Jan, an experienced bird rehabilitator, has been their surrogate mother, and will continue to be so for another month or two. The Tawny chicks need to be able to recognise their natural foods, come down to catch their own insects and chase their own mice. This may mean that Jan will devise all sorts of tricks to teach them, like dragging a dead mouse along the bottom of the cage, set up insect catchers, build compost piles in the aviary with night lights to attract insects.

Looking after Tawnies also means having to have a good supply of mice for them to eat. Eating at least two mice each per day, these little fellas go through hundreds in the time they are in care. Carers must either buy the mice for them, which is an expensive process, or breed them themselves, less expensive, but much smellier! They also need large aviaries to learn to fly and hunt.

This is especially so for adult Tawny Frogmouths that come into care, and many of them do. Tawnies are often seen perching on top of roadside markers waiting for insects at night. Swooping to catch an insect at the same time as a car is passing, can mean they sustain serious injuries. Often it is only a mild case of concussion or another injury that just needs some time to heal after a vet check, medication and appropriate care.

Help us help Bill and Bob, and other Tawny Frogmouths, chicks and adults alike. Donate now!

Tawny Frogmouth

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Tawny chicks, Bill and Bob, with their carer Jan

Tawny chicks, Bill and Bob, with their carer Jan

A Tawny fluff-ball, only a few days old

A Tawny fluff-ball, only a few days old

Still a nestling, colouring up, and eating heaps

Still a nestling, colouring up, and eating heaps

And now there are four...they still keep coming in

And now there are four...they still keep coming in

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