Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Orientation of tawny frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) nests and their position on branches optimises thermoregulation and cryptic concealment

Stuart Rae A C and Duncan Rae B

A The Research School of Biology, Building 116, Daley Road, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.

B Hawker College, Murranji Street, Hawker, ACT 2614, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: stuart@stuartrae.com

Australian Journal of Zoology 61(6) 469-474 https://doi.org/10.1071/ZO13090
Submitted: 28 October 2013  Accepted: 26 February 2014   Published: 14 March 2014

Abstract

Tawny frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) nests were surveyed in grassy woodland, dry sclerophyll forest and suburbia in the Australian Capital Territory. In total, 253 tawny frogmouth nests were recorded in 145 nest sites. Nests were oriented to the north-east, which would expose them to morning sunshine and partially shelter them from the prevailing wind. Most nests were placed in rough or flaky-barked tree species, on open mid-branch sites with no foliage, where the birds’ plumage and posture resemble the colour and form of the branches. Although smooth-barked gum trees were the most abundant types in the dry sclerophyll forest they were seldom used. Nest sites in all habitats were similar; the mean nest height was 9.2 m, and most nests were set on forks in the lowest branches. By placing their nests in these positions tawny frogmouths likely maximise their potential thermoregulation, protection from wind, concealment from predators, and detection of approaching predators.


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