Sri Lankan frogmouth (Batrachostomus moniliger)

Also known as: Ceylon frogmouth
GenusBatrachostomus (1)
SizeLength: 23 cm (2)

The Sri Lankan frogmouth is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List (1).

Distinctive in both its appearance and its loud laughing song, the Sri Lankan frogmouth is a tropical bird related to the nightjars. So called because of its large, gaping mouth, the Sri Lankan frogmouth’s head is as wide as its body, and has a broad, flattened, hooked bill. The female is rusty red with sparse white freckling, whereas the male is grey and more heavily spotted with white. The tail feathers are long and narrow (2).

Found only in India and Sri Lanka (2).

Inhabits dense tropical forest (2).

The Sri Lankan frogmouth is nocturnal, hunting insects at night and resting on branches during the day. It builds a nest in the fork of a tree from 2 – 12 metres above the ground, lining it with moss, small leaves, twigs and underfeathers (4). A single white egg is laid and is incubated by the female at night and the male during the day (2). The white chick is cared for over a period of weeks before dispersing (4).

The Sri Lankan frogmouth can inhabit shade-grown coffee plantations, which require the presence of the taller trees of native forest, and are therefore relatively ecologically sound. However, a recent trend has seen tea plantations becoming more profitable than coffee plantations, leading to the destruction of native forests. Habitat is also being lost to fires, forestry operations, water resource development, cultivation and grazing (3).

The Sri Lankan frogmouth is found in several protected areas including the United Nation’s Biosphere Reserves. Outside these reserves it is necessary to discourage the loss of shade-grown coffee crops in favour of more damaging crops, possibly by the use of an incentive scheme. It is also important to increase the diversity of native shade-trees (3).

For more information on Biosphere Reserves see:

For more information on this and other bird species please see:

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  1. IUCN Red List (July, 2014)