Tet Zoo picture of the day # 19

i-573a5e0fce6243dd5f4bede75dce0a8b-picture 2-7-2007.jpg

No temnospondyls for you: mystery pictures strike back! Congratulations in advance to the bright spark who can successfully identify what's shown above - and you don't have to get the identification down to the species, the genus will do. To the rest of you, commisserations in advance. No time for a post today, but coming next: Crassigyrinus, giant Carboniferous tadpole from hell (© Tet Zoo 2007. All rights reserved).

UPDATE (added 3-7-2007): the answer is...

i-4befdaa669e3ab08302a7b9520e822ca-podargid 3-7-2007.jpg

As so many of you correctly guessed, it's part of a frogmouth, and in particular a Tawny frogmouth Podargus strigoides, the only one of the frogmouths routinely kept in captivity (photo kindly supplied by Tina Whitlock). It occurs in open woodland habitats across Australia. Frogmouths are fascinating: they are predominantly nocturnal, arboreal birds that swoop from perches to grab whatever they can cram into their immense mouths. This includes insects, molluscs and worms, and also frogs, lizards, snakes, passerines and mice, and they also swallow soil, twigs, feathers and all manner of other crap, presumably accidentally (Cleere & Nurney 1998). They will hawk after insects, but they will also sit still with their mouths open: a habit which led Jared Diamond (1985) to speculate on the possibility that they secrete some sort of odiferous chemical that attracts insects (extra points to anyone who spots the link with a fictional future animal). A shield-like keratinized palatal plate and robust, straight bill with a hooked tip makes them good at grabbing animals from the ground and then retaining them in the mouth. Opercula cover their slit-like nostrils. They have two big powderdown patches on their rump that exude fat (this being used, of course, for waterproofing the plumage). They make croaking, rattling and grunting noises, they go kaah like a crow, and they can scream. Specifically, the picture showed a close-up of the feather tufts that grow from the base of the bill. These feathers - which aren't as specialised as the rictal bristles of other nightjar-like birds (such as owlet nightjars) - presumably serve a tactile function and help the bird detect prey when the mouth is open and sight is partially obscured.

Tawny frogmouths are one of the biggest of the 15 or so frogmouth species: a new one, the Solomon Islands frogmouth Rigidipenna inexpectata, was recognised earlier this year [although first named in 1901, it had previously been mis-classified as a subspecies of the Marbled frogmouth P. occelatus], and is a big deal in representing a new, third frogmouth genus (Cleere et al. 2007) [the other two are Podargus and Batrachostomus. A few authors have regarded the latter taxon as only distantly related to Podargus and worthy of its own 'family', the Batrachostomidae].

Anyway, I'm clearly not making these pictures difficult enough...

Refs - -

Cleere, N., Kratter, A. W., Steadman, D. W., Braun, M., Huddleston, C., Filardi, C. & Dutson, G. 2007. A new genus of frogmouth (Podargidae) from the Solomon Islands - results from a taxonomic review of Podargus ocellatus inexpectatus Hartert 1901. Ibis 149, 271-286.

- . & Nurney, D. 1998. Nightjars: A Guide to Nightjars and Related Nightbirds. Pica Press, Mountfield.

Diamond, J. 1985. Filter-feeding on a grand scale. Nature 316, 679-680.

More like this

tags: Solomon Islands Frogmouth, Rigidipenna inexpectatus, Podargus ocellatus inexpectatus, birds, birding, ornithology Gone are the days when animals were classified to taxon based solely on bone structure (osteology), body structure (morphometrics) or behavior (ethology), or some combination of…
Another busy week, so no time yet to finish any new articles, sorry. The photo here - kindly supplied by Mary Blanchard - depicts the little-known Collared nightjar Caprimulgus enarratus, a Madagascan endemic associated with humid evergreen forest and primary lowland forest (though it has also…
Much in the same way that "woodpeckers" have evolved several times (most are birds that look like each other, but then there is the aye-aye and Darwin's finch), one can say that the nightjars are birds poking around in the insect-eating bat niche. Nightjars are crepuscular birds also known as…
The Madagascan cuckoo-roller or Courol* Leptosomus discolor is a distinctive, large-headed, short-legged predatory bird that inhabits the forests of Madagascar and the Comores [adjacent photo of male Courol taken at Vakona in Madagascar; image courtesy of Mary Blanchard]. It's superficially…

Frogmouth? at a guess.

By Robert Jaques (not verified) on 02 Jul 2007 #permalink

Frogmouth or nightjars. I reckon

By Robert Jaques (not verified) on 02 Jul 2007 #permalink

I dunno why, but even before the pic had finished loading, something in me said "Frogmouth". Perhaps Podargus?

I'm probably wrong, though I am sure it's some sort of bird.

Pretty sure it's a frogmouth (Podargidae). Not sure which species.

By Mike Keesey (not verified) on 02 Jul 2007 #permalink

Oh, missed where you said you wanted a genus. Podargus is my best guess.

By Mike Keesey (not verified) on 02 Jul 2007 #permalink

Harrumph! I only do osteology.

By David Marjanović (not verified) on 02 Jul 2007 #permalink

Avian. Possibly Rattite. It also strongly reminds me of a lyrebird, which it has the wrong proportions for, I'm sure there are other birds with ornamental sprays that match more closely. Certainly a bird that flies poorly (if at all).

Um, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say it's some sort of bird.

Genus Podargus? Going out on a limb (horrible pun very intended) - Podargus strigoides, the Tawny Frogmouth?

And where I come from a man has a right to his Temnospondyls, that's what makes a right a RIGHT.

By sinuous tanyst… (not verified) on 02 Jul 2007 #permalink

Victoria Crowned Pigeon?

Crowned pigeon? This is assuming the blue/purple cast to the feathers is accurate and not an artifact of the photography.

Back-up guess: Frogmouth. I am noticing what MIGHT be an eye and the edges of a beak through the foreground plumage. This somehow makes it look frogmouthy. I think frogmouths might also be known as nighthawks, but I could be mistaken.

By Stevo Darkly (not verified) on 02 Jul 2007 #permalink

Well it's pretty obviously a bird of some kind. Doesn't look like a hoatzin's crest to me--maybe it's a peacock (Pavo), or one of those crowned pigeons of the genus Goura?

By Weatherfac (not verified) on 02 Jul 2007 #permalink

OK, I'm going to stick my neck out and suggest that it's a peahen, genus Pavo. Hell, I'll be even more courageous and suggest a female Indian (aka Common or Blue) Peafowl, Pavo cristatus.

No doubt someone will be along with a real answer soon.

By John Hopkin (not verified) on 02 Jul 2007 #permalink

Is it something you could find on an emu?

I'm guessing Cariama cristata.

I think it is the pre-orbital tuft of feathers of a frogmouth (Podargus), probably the tawny frogmouth P. strigoides. These are nocturnal predatory birds from Australasia.

eye of a frogmouth bird??

Man its frustrating. I've seen a bird with this 'crest' at the back of its head recently. But can't rmember what it is. Gona bug me all day...

Before I looked closely, I thought it was Darren with a case of split ends.

Yeah, Frogmouth seems the best guess by far.,..

Frogmouth (Podargus)?

Still sticking with the Frogmouth guess.

Related to that, I think those of you that are skeptical of the existence of extraterrestrials should take a close look at the pictures I am going to link below.

First, a picture of a hostile extraterrestrial from the box of a popular horror movie:

And for comparison, a portrait of their earthly reconaissance element:

By sinuous tanyst… (not verified) on 03 Jul 2007 #permalink

At first it seems obvious: a Podargus frogmouth, but then you start wondering. A frogmouth crest grows very largely on the forehead and if that is a bill at the right then this tuft seems to grow at the base of the bill. So what birds have a feather tuft there? Seriemas are the only ones I can think of, It can't be a Cariama since the bill isn't red, but Chunga does have a crest too, contrary to what some books say. So my guess is a Chunga, though the crest does look a bit too tall.

By Tommy Tyrberg (not verified) on 03 Jul 2007 #permalink

I am more of a lurker, less of a commenter type of a person, but this mystery picture rose my fighting blood. I'll throw in my two cents by claiming that these feathers are of a crane, egret, or a galliformes bird.

maybe a young male lyrebird?(Menura)

Bleh, too late to guess what it is. But as for that fictional future animal.... would I be too far off in suggesting Florifacies mirabila?

Bleh, too late to guess what it is. But as for that fictional future animal.... would I be too far off in suggesting Florifacies mirabila?

That's a good start (and have you seen this?).. but, no.

>That's a good start (and have you seen this?).. but, no.

Actually, no, I hadn't. I think I'll have to try to find that book now.

Frogmouth! (though I'm too late for it anyway).
Would the future animal be the flower-faced potoo, a practitioner of the same lifestyle espoused by flower-faced snouters and flooers?

Would the future animal be the flower-faced potoo, a practitioner of the same lifestyle espoused by flower-faced snouters and flooers?

Yes - well done! You might recall from the rhinogradentian and future bats posts that I was surprised on learning from Dougal Dixon that, when he invented Florifacies, he was totally unaware of the rhinogradentians. I had assumed that the Flower-faced potoo was inspired by Diamond's idea about podargids but - again - Dougal admitted ignorance of this (which makes sense, given that Diamond published the 'insect attractor' idea in 1985 [After Man was published in 1981]). To use that old cliche, is it life imitating art, or .. yada yada yada.