Studying stealth, frogmouth style
Sunday 13 September 2009
ZSL London Zoo’s masters of disguise are busy teaching their new arrivals the tricks of the trade.
These tawny frogmouth chicks looked like balls of white cotton wool when they hatched at the end of June.
Two months on, their grey plumage is growing well and they are now almost as good as mum and dad at blending into the background.
The Australian birds are often mistaken for owls, but unlike owls they don’t hunt on the wing.
Instead, they are experts at sitting stock-still on low perches and letting unsuspecting rodents, insects and frogs creep close before suddenly snatching them up with their wide beaks.
As the picture shows, these youngsters are already learning the knack of leaning at just the right angle to impersonate nearby tree branches.
The adult birds, who are book-ending the pair of chicks, mate for life and teach the chicks their strategy of stealth by example.
But visitors to the zoo will notice that, as with other species, sitting still and keeping quiet can still be quite an effort for the young frogmouths.