Family Frogmouths (Podargidae)

Least Concern

Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides)


French: Podarge gris German: Eulenschwalm Spanish: Podargo australiano

Caprimulgus strigoides


, 1801,

New Holland = Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


Possibly the most divergent member of genus; coloration, proportionately long and pointed wings, short tail and strong feet are all adaptations to its relatively dry woodland habitat. Wide individual and sexual, as well as geographical, variation in coloration and size led to naming of numerous races in past; proposed races lilae (Groote Eylandt) and gouldi (NE Australia) included in phalaenoides, while cornwalli (E Queensland), victoriae (SC Australia) and cuvieri (Tasmania) all now lumped into nominate; much of variation now known to be clinal, resulting in various recent treatments reducing number of valid races to five, three, two or none, but detailed studies now indicate that three should be accepted#R. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. s. phalaenoides Gould, 1840 – throughout N Australia S to Great Sandy Desert, Barkly Tableland and S plains of Gulf of Carpentaria (in Queensland).
  • P. s. brachypterus Gould, 1841 – Western Australia (S from Great Sandy Desert) E to W Queensland (Channel Country) and NW Victoria (Murray mallee).
  • P. s. strigoides (Latham, 1801) – E & SE Australia from Queensland (S from N of Cooktown) S, W to inland fringes of Great Dividing Range, to SE South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.
  • A single unconfirmed sight record (subspecies uncertain) from near Morehead, in CS New Guinea.

    Descriptive notes

    34–53 cm; 205–364 g (phalaenoides), 180–680 g (strigoides). Coloration very variable, but upperparts normally greyish, boldly streaked... read more


    Calls frequently, especially in breeding season. Song is soft, rather unobtrusive, low-pitched... read more


    Requires trees or shrubs in which to roost and nest, and perches from which it can hunt in open... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet consists mainly of large insects and other terrestrial invertebrates (scorpions, spiders, centipedes); also takes frogs, and... read more


    Season apparently similar throughout range, mostly Aug–Dec, with peak of laying Sept–Oct. Normally single-brooded; reports of... read more


    Adults appear to be sedentary throughout year on their territories; seasonal movements suggested by... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Remains common over much of Australia, though has declined in some areas, e.g. S Mt Lofty Ras, SE South Australia and Wheatbelt of... read more

    Recommended citation

    Holyoak, D.T. (2020). Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 23 January 2020).