Thursday, 6 August 2015

Snuggled up

It's late winter in Canberra with frosty nights and sunny days, and the birds are beginning to show springtime behaviour. The Tawny Frogmouths are drawing closer to their breeding sites, moving in from more distant perches to be close to their nest sites. They will be building their nests soon. Although none have started to do so yet, I have seen birds with well-built nests by this date in previous years, with the earliest eggs laid on the 12th August. Meanwhile, they are making the best use of the sunshine as they roost during the day.

A pair of Tawny Frogmouths Podargus strigoides roost by day in a gum tree
the smaller female sits closer to the trunk as is usually the case - for protection by her mate?
They are medium-sized birds, about the size of a Tawny Owl, and live mostly on invertebrates. However, they have a slow metabolism and as insects and such creatures are not abundant during winter, they move as little as possible, slow down their metabolism even further and sit in sunny situations, all to conserve energy. And to do so while daytime predators are about, they have evolved excellent camouflage for protection.

A pair of frogmouths sit high on a sunny branch
Yet, they don't stay completely motionless all day. This pair mostly roost farther along the branch towards the trunk, but as the sun has crossed the sky, they have shuffled along the branch to stay in the sunshine. Today was cold.

The spot where these birds usually sit is farther to the right, as can be seen by the worn red bark on the branch and a fluff of cast down below where they normally sit.
The frogmouths sit fluffed up and huddled into a rounded shape to keep warm, and by snuggling up close to one another the pair gain extra warmth.

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