Frogmouth   

Return To Index page

 

From the family of Batrachostomidae

Frogmouths are nocturnal birds so named as their bills are large, flattened and having a froglike gape. There are bristles around the base the bills. Perhaps the longer bristle do serve the purpose of protecting the eyes from the insect during the hunt.

These are small to medium size birds with a feather pattern is critically designed like those of the Nightjars. While their flight are weak, they use the broad mouth to capture insects. In the day time they would most likely choose a horizontal branch, and then perched with their body appearing just like that of a stub of a broken branch. The cryptic looking plumage allows the bird to blend in with the mossy colored barks.

The main diet of the Frogmouth though is insect which included those like moths in flight. They may take on others like reptiles, frogs and even smaller birds that are conveniently available. From their elevated position the bird could actually pounced on its victim on the ground. It is not surprising that among their hunting style is one where they capitalize on the situation where the dark surroundings is illuminated by the head lights of passing cars. It was no accident that both the Frogmouths that I photographed conveniently had their perches directly above the road. At times, in the excitement of chasing the insect within the beam of passing cars, many Frogmouth were hit by the cars themselves.

Frogmouth do call and also hisses when threatened.

In the breeding season, the birds do take turns to keep the eggs warm during incubation. The roaster is that chores are done by the female at night and the male in daylight hours.

 

World wide there are 11 species of these birds and in South -east Asia there are 6 species. Here are the names

 
Large Frogmouth Batrachostomus auritus
Dulit Frogmouth Batrachostomus harterti
Gould's Frogmouth Batrachostomus stellatus
Short-tailed Frogmouth Batrachostomus poliolophus
Horsfield's Frogmouth Batrachostomus javensis
Sundan Frogmouth Batrachostomus cornutus

Here we are talking about watching nocturnal birds. It is not easy to search the darkness, particularly the areas within the forest for the birds. It is also a fact that unlike Savanna Nightjars which is constantly calling and wandering all over its territory, Frogmouths are not active flyers that are perched in one spot for a long time and making minimal short flights. To get to seeing one Frogmouth, usually means that the locals must have spotted the birds movements over a period of time and alert others of its presence in the vicinity  Then a concerted effort made to wait for their appearances.

So on this page I could only show the pictures from one species, while the rest I still have to track them down. This species is now commonly known as Javan Frogmouth though the other name of Horsfield's Frogmouth may still be seen used.

 

Javan Frogmouth  Batrachostomus javensis

 

 Size & diagnostic markings:- The Frogmouth is 24 cm large, brown with warm speckles, vermiculated and spots. Broad mouth and yellow eyes. Not easy to describe the colors when there are patches here and there

 Distribution :-  This bird is resident in Sumatra, Java and Borneo
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a bird of the lowland forest but sometimes could be seen in sub-montane forest.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- Rather difficult to pin point the area, but the pictures on this page were taken in the forest in Rengit and another in the sub-montane forest in Old Pump House Road in Awana,
 

Javan Frogmouth  # 1

Javan Frogmouth   # 2

Javan Frogmouth   # 3

Javan Frogmouth   # 4

Javan Frogmouth   # 5

Javan Frogmouth   # 6

Javan Frogmouth   # 7

Javan Frogmouth  # 8

Javan Frogmouth   # 9

Javan Frogmouth   # 10

Javan Frogmouth  # 11

Javan Frogmouth   # 12

Javan Frogmouth   # 13

Javan Frogmouth  # 14

Javan Frogmouth   # 15

Javan Frogmouth   # 16

Javan Frogmouth  # 17

Javan Frogmouth   # 18

 
 My personal jottings on the Javan Frogmouth :-

Both the times, when these pictures were taken, the birds were nesting. Other times, the birds were spooked immediately upon approaching. At a spot far way in the canopy and once was on the road in the middle of the night.

 

This is another bird that could not be hunted down. Spotting the bird is through information of birders who had met the bird and know of its whereabouts. Then the birds are nocturnal, spotting the birds would not mean able to get them recorded. So good collection of pictures is not easy leave alone large accumulation of pictures.

The positive point is that the bird have rather fixed habits and making appearances in places it frequents. On the photography side, this is not an exciting bird to make pictures. The bird remain stationary most of the time it was perched giving minimal variations to the collection of pictures. Unlike pictures of Owls, the pictures of Frogmouth could be taken in daylight hours, once the bird is located. I had an experience where the Frogmouth was perched on top of a lamp post. Taking for granted the nature of Frogmouth remaining still, I approached the bird. Not knowing that the perch was temporary, the bird gave me a surprise took flight in daylight hours.