Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Tawny Frogmouth fledglings

Three Tawny Frogmouth fledglings gather on one branch
Most of the Tawny Frogmouths in Canberra now have fledged young and I have been out watching them, to count the prey brought to the chicks by the adults. Although they have left the nest they are still very dependent on the adults, as they will be for about a month. This brood of three roosted during the day in separate trees then gathered in one after dusk when the adults began bringing in food.

The adult female brings in food 
The adults fed the chick which begged loudest first, not that their begging calls are loud. This is more of a rough rasping, coughing call, not shrill like that of most diurnal species' chicks. This is probably an adaptation to reduce the risk of attracting nocturnal predators such as owls which can detect prey by listening for such sounds.

The adult male lands with more food - one chick is fed a t a time, while the others watch on
The adults brought in food every few minutes for the fist hour, then gradually reduced this as the fledglings eased off their begging. Slowly they settled down and remained still most of the time apart from occasional wing stretching exercises. I could tell when an adult was approaching with food as the chicks would see them coming before me and begin fidgeting and calling again.

I use flash to photograph the prey which I can identify later at the desk
I watched under the light of the full moon and I could see the adults hunting not far off as my eyes quickly adjusted to the light level. I do not like using torches or spotlights to watch wildlife at night. All one can then see is what is in the beam, we are blind to anything beyond the white. With two weeks of moon larger than a quarter, there are plenty of nights for good watching. I used the flash here to see what prey the adults were bringing in. With flash I can grab an image and identify the prey species later at the desk. And there is no need to use full flash either. I do not like images of nocturnal animals like up like Christmas trees in bright artificial-coloured flash. I like to photograph what I see - softly flying birds in soft light, silent as ghosts (apart from the chicks' spooky low growling).

Mum with two of the kids under a full moon

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