Animals & Wildlife Magazine


By Adityagangadharan

The Sri Lanka Frogmouth is definitely the funniest bird that I have come across (I cant quite decide whether it is also the ugliest).  It is a nocturnal bird, found only in the Western Ghats of India and in Sri Lanka. It’s pretty difficult to spot, so I got very excited the first time I saw it from some distance away, in a reed forest:


I then slowly started moving towards it, so that I could get a better close-up photo. I was afraid that it would fly away, but there was no need to worry. The frogmouth decided that he would stay where he was, and try to fool me by pretending to be a tree stump.

So I crawled closer and closer, making quite a lot of noise because of the reeds – and yet he stayed. Now he started staring at me with a slightly confused expression. Clearly, he couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t been fooled by his elaborate camouflage:



By now I was less than 2 metres away from him, and he finally realized that his cunning plan wasn’t working. So he decided to go on the offensive, and started threatening me by opening his bill and hissing at me. Keep in mind that this bird is only about 20 cm long. You can now clearly see why he’s called a frogmouth (the large mouth is useful for catching insects):


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By this time, I was laughing so hard that I could hardly take any decent photos anymore. The frogmouth got even more confused now, because he had expected me to retreat in fear at his threat display, and instead here I was laughing at him:



Anyway, I decided that he had provided me enough entertainment for the day, and I left him in peace.

The behaviour that I have described above is a pretty standard frogmouth response to threatening situations. Sometimes though, they seem to get confused about the sequence of events that they should follow when they preceive danger. The following story was related to me by my friend Raghavendra Mogaroy, who once came across a frogmouth sitting in a tree. Of course everyone got excited, and started taking pictures. The frogmouth didn’t appreciate all this attention, and decided to fly off. Unfortunately, frogmouths don’t see very well during the day, with the result that he took off, circled, and landed even closer to the people than he had been at the beginning!

But he quickly realized his mistake, and moved to Plan B. He twisted his body and neck slightly, closed his eyes, sat still and pretended to be a tree stump. After about a minute, he slowly opened one eye, and slightly turned his head, to check whether the people were still there or had been fooled by his clever disguise. Clearly, frogmouths have a poor opinion of human intelligence.

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