Wednesday 18 October 2017

First Frogmouths fledged

The first Tawny Frogmouth chicks of the year left their nest last Sunday, the 15th October. That means the first egg would have been laid about the 18th August, quite early but not the earliest I have seen in Canberra. That was the 12th August one year. The pair who breed in this territory are usually one of the earliest to lay. There is a wide spread of laying dates this year over the frogmouths that I monitor - I have been recording the breeding success of about fifty pairs for over ten years. And this year some of the birds only went down on eggs a week or so ago, seven weeks later than these early ones.

Even though they have left the nest, the chicks have not truly fledged. They are still very dependent upon their parents for food and protection. They will stay with their parents for at least another month, usually longer, living as a family group until they finally disperse at the end of the breeding season and find territories and mates of their own.

The male was the bird in close attendance of the chicks, as is usually the case. Although the adult birds both know me as I have been visiting them for several years, they were still wary of me in protection of their chicks. They did not go into full stick-pose, but did stretch up a little and watch me through half-closed eyes.

Meanwhile the female watched from the next tree. Again in part concealment pose, and watching through part-closed eyes.


  1. Do these chicks fly or just clamber up and down branches in the vicinity of the nest? The chicks of the one pair I monitor show a range of behaviours at this stage. Most years they have the nest, fly away and never return to the nest. In a couple of years they have climber around the nest tree without flying, returning to the nest each night. Last year was strange as one chick flew and returned to the nest each night for at least 3 nights while the other chick built up the strength or confidence to fly.

  2. Yes well observed. If people were to watch these birds at night, when they are most active, they would see that the chicks are very mobile before they leave the nest for good. The chicks will spread along the nest branch, climb up onto others or fly between branches.even trees tens of metres away. Then next morning they will have returned to the nest as if they had been there all night. The older chicks are more active when there are three chicks in the nest as they wait for their siblings to gain similar strength.