Tawny frogmouths are becoming more common along Merri Creek’s middle reaches and four nesting sites were once spotted on a 2 kilometre walk between Egan’s Reserve in Coburg and CERES in Brunswick. We think this is because revegetation sites make ideal hunting grounds, the eucalypts planted around 25 years ago are now mature enough to support Frogmouths, and they are relatively safe along the Merri from traffic.
Photo was taken at Egan Reserve Coburg by Karla Pringle
For something that tries so hard to stay hidden, Tawny Frogmouths attract a lot of attention. Perhaps because their camouflage is so perfect, there is a real sense of achievement when one is sighted along the creek and such sightings are shared with pride.
With their nocturnal habit and owl-like appearance, Tawny Frogmouths are more closely related to the nightjars than owls.
What makes the ‘Tawnys’ so successful along the Merri?
The Frogmouth’s leisurely mode of feeding, perched on a branch waiting to pounce on something crawling underneath (a moth, a beetle or even a mouse) is very energy efficient. This means that even in small suburban reserves and gardens the bird is able to find sustenance. Revegetation sites support diverse insect life and low perches that overlook leaf litter and mown lawn make ideal hunting grounds!
In earlier years, it seems like Frogmouths were happy to nest in introduced trees that were the only ones large enough for the birds to comfortably perch and build their flimsy nests. This situation is changing as the swishy eucalypt saplings of the 1990s become staid mature trees capable of supporting Frogmouths.
The narrow windy streets surrounding the Merri mean Frogmouths are relatively safe from their main threat - the speeding car. So, it is not surprising that these birds have become common in the Merri Creek parklands. However in this urban environment, pesticides used on sporting grounds may contaminate their food supply and the impact of excess artificial lighting may reduce nocturnal insect populations. So, keep an eye peeled for this bird that has managed to take great advantage of revegetation to recolonise the Merri Creek.