A bird’s eyesight is its most important sense and the one it relies on most for flight, evading predators, and finding food. Tawny frogmouths have more dense rods and cones packed on the retina, giving them superior vision to humans in both black-and-white and color. They have excellent perception of motion and detail. Hearing is the second most important sense. Their ear holes are funnel-shaped to focus sound. They have acute sound recognition skills and are especially sensitive to pitch, tone, and rhythm changes that they use in communication. They are less reliant upon taste and smell.
Status in the Wild
Tawny frogmouths have mottled gray, black, white, and silver plumage that is often streaked with varying shades of brown. Their tail is usually darker-colored but they have a paler breast and underside. They have a gray, heart-shaped and sharply hooked bill with a huge, wide mouth. Around this bill and mouth are several whiskerlike feathers. They also have gray legs and feet that are quite short, small, and weak. Their eyes are very large and perfectly round; the gold iris is encircled with a ring of orange-brown and the pupil is coal black. They have an 18- to 24-inch wingspan but are considered the weakest fliers of their order.
Tawny frogmouths are common within their range and have a stable population. However, poisons, insecticides, cars, and introduced predators such as house cats are common threats to this species.