Thursday, 8 December 2011

Papuan Frogmouth

While at Iron Range I kept an eye out for frogmouths, a very careful eye. There are two species in the rainforest there, Papuan and Marbled. This Papuan Frogmouth was sitting on a nest on a lateral branch about 15m up - it was the lowest branch in a tall tree. He merged so well with the bark of the branch and mixed in with the epiphytes, he was very difficult to spot.

Then as I watched him, I quickly noticed a pair of Figbirds coming in to feed their young in a nest less than a metre from the frogmouth. And not only that but there were a pair of Noisy Friarbirds building a nest about a metre above him (to the right). See below. Both pairs of passerines were very active and busy all the time I was there. Had they deliberately selected to nest close to the frogmouth, for protection? Frogmouths will pull themselves up into a dramatic threat display posture if a predator approaches. They hold their mouths wide open, 180 degrees almost, and spread out their wing and head feathers as they rear up. They more than double their apparent size and hiss loudly. Enough to see off a predator smaller than themselves? The main predator in the area would likley be the Canopy Goanna.

This bird was sitting over a single chick of about two weeks age. It would leave the nest in another two weeks. Enough to cover the Figbirds nestling period, but not that of the Friarbirds.

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