|Image from Oriental Bird Club|
This is the Sri Lankan Frogmouth1(Batrachostomus moniliger), and I believe that if Jim Henson set out to create an animal, this would be the result. A comically wide, flat mouth. Bulbous, ping-pong eyes. A single, large eyebrow. Remind you of anyone2? There are good reasons for each of those traits, and in fact, the Sri Lankan Frogmouth is not the only one with those traits. There are a number of other Frogmouths—a relative of the Nightjar—though none look quite as cartoony as the Sri Lankan.
As a nocturnal insectivore, the Frogmouth needs to be able to pick moths out of thin air, while flying through dense jungle. This explains both the gigantic eyes, and the gaping mouth acts as a funnel to increase the chance of an unsuspecting insect getting drawn into their maw. I’m not sure of the exact purpose of the monobrow, but it certainly aids in the magnificent camouflage. These birds are able to sit perfectly still atop a mossy branch and look like nothing more exciting than a stump. While I can’t seem to find a major predator, there seem to be plenty of choices.
Alas, it was only after I had decided that I needed to write about this animal that I found out… it’s not really endangered3. For a time, it was considered Near Threatened (possibly due to its amazing camouflage), and ARKive suggests that if habitat loss by non-sustainable agriculture were to get out of hand, it could go right back there, or worse. And, frankly, such a thing is not hard to imagine.
1Please watch the videos. It's even stranger looking when it moves.
2If you really want to freak yourself out, compare the pictures side-by-side.
3I would like to know what you think about this week’s other option, the Bare-Headed Rockfowl. Is it ugly enough for a future post? I value your opinions.