Tawny Frogmouth are well known for building flimsy nests and with this season of heavy rain and strong winds many of their chicks have ended up on the ground.
It is normal for fledglings to be on the ground briefly or in strange position like verandas and poles. As long as they’re older and are safe from cats, dogs and other predators they can be observed or perched up on a low branch. A parent will usually fly down and sit protectively next to them until dusk, when they become active and the parent birds encourage them to fly high into a tree.
But the very young Tawny frogmouths that are still white in colour, are extremely vulnerable to predators and will need to come into care unless the nest can be located and the chick returned to the nest.
Many this season have been reunited with parents after a brief time in care, or left and observed by helpful members of the public who keep an eye on them.
Two young Tawny frogmouths named Claire Bear and Pookie are currently in care with WIRES volunteer Deborah.
Claire Bear was very, very young and found barely holding onto a branch, wet and cold after being blown out of the nest in a big storm, sadly the nest could not be located.
Pookie was found by a Wires member, some small wounds indicated the chick had likely been picked up from the nest by a predator and dropped, again the nest could not be located.
They have both done well in care and love being together in their substitute nests “ talking” to each other 24 hours a day.
Soon they will go out into an aviary with older Tawny Frogmouths currently in care. Here the older Tawnies will teach them Tawny behaviour, vital knowledge for their future in the wild. Other Tawnies also come at night and sit outside the aviary and ’talk’ to the ones in care.
Claire Bear and Pookie will be returned to the wild when they are self-feeding and flying well.
It is interesting to note that Tawny Frogmouth are not owls, as many people believe. They are more closely related to the Nightjar family but really a species of their own.
Unlike Owls they have weak feet and are poor flyers. They fly low at dusk hunting moths and insects and are consequently often in care after being hit by cars.
Please take care driving at dusk when our nocturnal wildlife species are active.
By Deborah Pearce