Papuan Frogmouth - Cairns Botanical Gardens, Australia - July 2012

Frogmouth is a family of birds that, like frogs, have large mouths compared to the size of their body. Also, they have large, horny, triangular, sharply hooked bills.

The Papuan Frogmouth is the largest of the 14 frogmouth species with an average length of 53 cm (21 in).  They can be found in the Cape York Peninsula of Queensland, Australia as well as New Guinea and nearby islands in Indonesia.

From Wikipedia. "The Papuan frogmouth is strictly nocturnal. It hunts for large insects on the ground from dusk. On occasion it will also take a small reptile, amphibian or bird as prey. It has been speculated that the Papuan frogmouth may secrete a substance in its mouth that attracts flies. According to a number of observers it is able to wait with its mouth open and flies enter to investigate the odor."


"Frogmouths have very cryptic colouring that camouflages them during the day. They often rest horizontal on branches.  These two factors make them very difficult to find.  However, the good news is that if you are lucky enough to find one, they will not fly away, making them easy to photograph if only you can spot them. Papuan Frogmouths are sexually dimorphic.  The male is grey while the females are brown.  They have red eyes but you will probably never see them as they will be sleeping during the day and will not open their eyes unless disturbed.  They are strictly nocturnal.  They eat mostly large insects on the ground."

"The frogmouth, with its big mouth and habit of bashing its prey to death, is not your average cute bird that everyone loves such as robins or parrots.  Nor would you call them majestic like an eagle.  Except in Australia, most people have never even heard to them.  You have to be very lucky to spot them for photography."

As the label indicates, I photographed this bird in the Cairns Botanical Gardens in 2012. The bird was in deep shadow. But, because it was so still, I was able to take two exposures, one correct for the foliage, one correct for the bird and later combine the two in Photoshop.

David Sparks

I retired in 2005 after 40 years of research and teaching at the University of Alabama in Birmingham (24 years), the University of Pennsylvania (8 years) and the Baylor College of Medicine (8 years). Photography is my retirement hobby.

Nature photography, especially bird photography, combines a number of things that I really enjoy: bird-watching, being outdoors, photography, travel, messing about with computers, and learning new skills and concepts.  I now spend much of my time engaged in these activities.

David Sibley in the preface to The Sibley Guide to Birds wrote "Birds are beautiful, in spectacular as well as subtle ways; their colors, shapes, actions, and sounds are among the most aesthetically pleasing in nature."  My goal is to acquire images that capture the beauty and uniqueness of selected species as well as images that highlight the engaging behaviors the birds exhibit.