Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Tawny Frogmouths and ants

A family of Tawny Frogmouths line up along a dead branch
Mum is farthest away, then the single fledgling and dad is watching from the right

Most of the young Tawny Frogmouths have fledged by now, except for those from nests where the adults lost their first clutches of eggs or broods of young. The chicks will be with their parents for another month or so before they venture off on their own and lead an adult life.

The fledglings are so curious they watch people as much as they watch them - if they can spot them in the first place

It is not all peaceful and easy just sitting on a branch all day waiting for dark and then going about the woods looking for food. I found this female being very tolerant of a string of ants that were marching up and down her roost branch.

She watched me through part open eyelids, but was unconcerned about the ants

I watched her for several minutes and she gradually reclined into a relaxed posture once she realised I was no threat to her. Still, she never reacted to the ants in any way, and she would have been sitting there for several hours before I saw her. She would have been there since dawn. I suppose that frogmouths must be used to ants chewing on their toes, or the ants don't go any further than that, for ants will attack and kill small birds if the come across a nest or an injured bird on the ground. The question is, why didn't the ants attack her? Have frogmouths adapted some form of ant repellent which allows them to sit in one spot all day and not be bothered by them?

Meat ants Iridomymex sp. chewing at the dead skin on her toes


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