Malaysian Birds - Frogmouth


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



  1. Blyth's Frogmouth  
  2. Bornean Frogmouth


  3. Dulit Frogmouth


  4.Gould's Frogmouth  
  5. Large Frogmouth


  6. Sunda Frogmouth  


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.


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