The Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) Podargus means ‘gouty’ is derived from the Greek word podagra meaning gout. This refers to the small, presumably weak feet of the frogmouth. Some say they walk ‘like a gouty old man’. The species name strigoides is from the Latin strix meaning owl, and oides meaning ‘in the shape of’. Thus the scientific name means: ‘gouty owl-like’ (bird). Frogmouths do resemble owls, but they are more closely related to the nightjar family.
The name frogmouth refers to the shape of the beak as they have a very wide mouth with a huge gape, like a frog! These are chunky birds, with big heads and long rounded tails. Tawny frogmouths have greyish feathers, lighter below, streaked with darker grey and some reddish tints. Their large eyes have a yellow iris, and the inside of the wide heavy beak is yellow. Both males and females can reach 53 cm in length, and weigh up to 680 grams. For their size, they tend to be heavier than owls. Frogmouths are masters of camouflage: During the day they sit motionless, with eyes closed, feathers compacted and beak upraised near the trunk of a tree or on a post, looking uncannily like a dead branch. They make a repetitive low-pitched, breathy call at night: whoo-whoo-whoo.