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Tawny Frogmouth

Summer has arrived and the number of wildlife cases that are coming into our clinic have exponentially increased.  With the change of season comes unpredictable weather and as a result juvenile wildlife are often separated from their family. This may be from falling from their nests or otherwise injured while they are still learning to be ‘street smart’.

Recently we had a special guest in the form of a juvenile tawny frogmouth, not old enough to fledge from the nest so, we suspect he was knocked out by heavy winds.

The first question – Is a tawny frogmouth an owl?

No-They do have nocturnal habits and an owl-like appearance, but they are more closely related to the nightjars. Tawny’s are weak in their feet and do not have the curved talons of owls. Nightjars are medium sized nocturnal birds characterised by long wings, short legs and very short bills.

When our recent tawny was presented, Dr. Kiara Simonis did a thorough physical examination and found that he was alert but quiet, slightly dehydrated and cold, and had a small scratch on his face, but otherwise seemed okay.

Based on his plumage, we estimate that he is around 4 weeks of age.  He was warmed up and once stable, anaesthetized for radiographs.  Luckily no fractures or other abnormalities were found, so after receiving subcutaneous fluids and warm food he was sent off to a wildlife carer.  Carers raise these orphans with a group of other juvenile tawny frogmouths so that they are eventually released back into the wild. 

Much of the wildlife we see that is bought in to our clinic would be more stable if left in their own environment.  Most infant birds do well if moved to a safer spot, returned to their nest (if safe to do so), or left alone if their parents are nearby. We recommend assessing the situation and only bring in wildlife that you worry may be injured. It is in the best interest of the animal to do so, but sometimes human intervention is required for a positive outcome.