Sunday, 1 November 2015

Tawny Frogmouth fledglings

The adult female Tawny Frogmouth Podargus strigoides (left) male (centre) and one fledgling adopt their cryptic pose
- to merge with the branches they are perched upon

The chicks of the earliest breeding tawny frogmouths which I study have just fledged. They left the nest on the night of the 29/30th October and had flown to a tree about 75m away for their first daytime roost. One chick was with the two adults but the other was on its own in a nearby tree.

The male sits over the chick to protect it - all three birds sit in a relaxed posture as there is no threat of danger, it was only me and they probably recognised me, through familiarity, as not a threat

It is usual for each adult to sit close by a chick if they are on separate branches or trees. This one was perhaps not being guarded because it was on a low branch and the adults were a bit cautious to sit so low. Although they were watching over it and would likely have swooped down to protect it if any predator did approach it. All they did when I approached, was lift and turn their heads to watch me intently, as if ready to move if necessary.

One fledgling had landed in an adjacent tree
 - and was not being guarded by an adult, which is unusual
The solitary chick had little to fear however, as it was so well camouflaged against the tree bark and as they do, it sat motionless as I walked past. Most people or predators would not have noticed it.

The fledglings' plumage was still very downy. The main feathers to have developed were their flight feathers on their wings, and the feathers on their backs which would be able to shed any rain and camouflage them against the tree bark. The facial bristle feathers were beginning to take form, hiding their eyes and bill, for now that they have left the nest concealment is essential to their survival as they roost during the day.

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