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Baby boom continues with new tawny frogmouth chick

Posted by Gigi Allianic, Communications

We've had a very productive spring and summer here at Woodland Park Zoo with the births and hatchings of so many little ones. The newest addition to our baby boom is a tawny frogmouth chick! The new chick represents the 38th frogmouth hatched at the zoo since the species’ first hatching in 2009. The zoo is currently home to seven adult tawny frogmouths.

A newly hatched tawny frogmouth chick looks just like a white cotton ball.  Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Tawny frogmouths are nocturnal birds native to Australia. During the day, they perch on tree branches, using their cryptic camouflage to blend into their environment. The plumage of the tawny frogmouth is silver-gray, slightly paler below, streaked and mottled with black and rufous. Frogmouths are often mistaken as owls; although they have many habits similar to owls, they are actually more closely related to nightjars and whip-poor-wills, and do not have the strong, curved talons of owls. 

A newly hatched tawny frogmouth chick is weighed in a behind-the-scenes area. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

The new tawny frogmouth chick hatched to first-time parents, both 2 years old. The parents were paired under the Tawny Frogmouth Species Survival Plan, which is a cooperative, conservation breeding program across accredited Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) zoos to help ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population. 

An adult and two juvenile tawny frogmouths. Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

“This breeding pair is genetically valuable as the parents’ blood lines trace directly back to wild lineages in Australia,” said Mark Myers, bird curator at Woodland Park Zoo and the coordinator for the Tawny Frogmouth Species Survival Plan. Under the leadership of Myers, Woodland Park Zoo was recently honored with an Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan Sustainability Award for its successful breeding efforts for the species. There are currently 187 frogmouths in the AZA population at 72 institutions. 

Tawny frogmouths blend right in with the trees, branches and bark in their environment. Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

Both parents are providing parental care in an off-view area. In addition, animal keepers are providing supplemental feedings when necessary to ensure good weight gain. “So far, based on the chick’s daily weight gains, we can tell the parents are doing a great job of feeding it,” said Myers. 

“A newly hatched tawny frogmouth chick resembles an oversized cotton ball,” explained Myers. “In the coming weeks it will start to acquire its juvenile plumage and darker contour feathers that act as camouflage, blending into the color and texture of tree bark.”

A family of tawny frogmouths at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

While tawny frogmouths are not endangered, the species suffers losses due to pesticide use in their home range. Locally, everyone can take action by avoiding the use of pesticides, chemical herbicides, and rodenticides in their backyards to support a healthy community for local and migratory bird species. Using these products has an impact on the foods that birds eat. 

Woodland Park Zoo participates in 111 Species Survival Plans, overseen by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Led by experts in husbandry, nutrition, veterinary care, behavior, and genetics, these plans also involve a variety of other collaborative conservation activities such as research, public education, reintroduction and field projects. 

Woodland Park Zoo has reopened—visit now! Go to to purchase timed-entry admission tickets and to learn about changes to help keep zoo visitors, animals and staff healthy. For additional ways to support your zoo, consider a membership or contribute to the Relief Fund at The zoo appreciates the community support!