Tawny Frogmouths – the hidden residents of Rushall Park and Leith Park

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Tawny Frogmouths – the hidden residents of Rushall Park and Leith Park

September 7, 2021

 When Sir David Attenborough put a call out for help to get into homes where Tawny Frogmouths live, Old Colonists’ Association of Victoria jumped at the chance.

Living high in the trees in Rushall Park and Leith Park, keen-eyed twitchers have regularly spotted Tawny Frogmouths, and OCAV has let Sir David know.

Tawny Frogmouths are one of Melbourne’s most common birds but it’s one of the hardest to find. That’s because it spends its days pretending not to be a bird, sitting on exposed branches, posing as a stub in a defence against predators.

The nocturnal bird is one of Sir David Attenborough’s favourites. In efforts to get Planet Earth III up and running, Sir David Attenborough is hoping to head Down Under to document Australia’s stunning population of Tawny Frogmouths.

Although nocturnal like owls, Tawny Frogmouths differ in the way they catch their prey. While owls use their powerful talons and claws, frogmouths eat up their prey – insects, worms, snails, small animals, reptiles, frogs and even birds – by catching them in their big, wide beaks.

Frogmouths inhabit many Melbourne suburban parks and plenty of gardens too. They are quite large with an average size of 44 cm. They’re great birds to seek out in the evening, when they silently fly back and forth to their nests. In spring and summer, you might even see one or two fluffy, white chicks. They learn to stare early on.

Planet Earth has a film crew booked to come to Melbourne in November. They’re just such extraordinary birds,” producer Fred Devas said.

“They’re so charismatic, and so little globally has been seen about them, so we want to film the adults because their camouflage during the day is extraordinary. It’s part of the reason they’re so successful in cities because no one sees them in the day and then at night, when the street lights attract a lot of the insects, they do really well hunting there.”


"I love the fact that Rushall Park residents and volunteers are so active – contributing to life in the village. The sense of the community is strong which is why I put my name on the waiting list" - Maggie Birkett.

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