Thursday, 31 October 2013

Frogmouths in the sun

A Tawny Frogmouth basks in sunshine
Ever wondered what tawny Frogmouths do when we aren't watching, and they don't adopt their broken branch pose? Following on from the previous post, I thought I should add some images of how frogmouths hold themselves when not in alarm, as usually seen by humans.

Typically, they sit on the sunny side of trees where they can bask in the sun. Frogmouths can go into torpor during the day when they are not active and exposure to maximum sunshine, especially in winter, helps them thermoregulate. When sitting in the sun, they hold their breast up towards and face onto the sun. And they tilt their head back and fluff out their feathers, which are held tight against the body when in branch-pose.

Well shaded eyes
Frogmouths don't hunt by day and they hold their eyes closed when their head is angled towards the sun or when approached. But at other times when they are looking around, generally watching, their eyes are well shielded from the sunshine by thickly feathered eyebrows. As their eyes are likely better tuned to night vision, this probably aids their daylight vision, by shading them from bright direct light.

Quite frequently, they will bend their head right back and over a shoulder, spreading the feathers on their neck and breast wide open. This seems to be to allow maximum sunlight or heat reach their skin. In the photograph below, the bird has tipped her head to her left and her bill tip and nasal bristles can only just be seen protruding from the fluffed up plumage.

Maximised sun basking

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