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Welcome back to Bizarre Beasts: Season Zero. We are remastering episodes of Bizarre Beasts that were originally created for Vlogbrothers.
Frogmouths are little shapeshifting birds with absolutely massive mouths.

Get the Season Zero pin set here:

The Frogmouth pin was designed by Atomic Pixies.

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Thank you to Planet Wild for sponsoring today's episode of Bizarre Beasts.

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Good morning John, Welcome back to Bizarre

Beasts: Season Zero. Hank and I are trading off hosting duties on  our year-long journey to remaster the original   Bizarre Beasts episodes from Vlogbrothers  with corrections, updates, and new facts. Make sure you stick around for  the pin set announcement and for   bonus material about this video’s Bizarre Beast. So Owls are pretty cool right: the big  eyes, the silent flight, the ears- ears!

But also everybody knows that owls are cool. What about Frogmouths? [♪♪INTRO♪♪] You probably haven’t even heard of them. And they’re like Owls, except not at all-  despite the big, front-facing eyes and the   nocturnal habits, Frogmouths are actually more  closely related to Hummingbirds than to owls.

Just wanted to pause here and  add a little more context,   because that can’t be true…right? Except, it is. Frogmouths and hummingbirds –  and one of our previous beasts,   the oilbird – all belong to a superorder  of birds called the Strisores.

And while they may look very different,  the similarities in their DNA tell us   that they are all more closely related  to each other than they are to owls. And those eyes are really  what does it for us, right? Because we humans are so eyeball  focused as a community based species,   we see those eyes as like a  sign of intelligence or emotion.

And I’m not saying they’re not smart,  birds are smart but ravens are smarter. If Ravens had eyes like Owls, we  would let them teach kindergarten. But then you mix those eyes with this big,   ridiculous mouth and you get something  that doesn’t really appear wise so much   as alternately high, startled, sleepy,  cranky, shocked and adorably furious.

Frogmouths are night hunters just like Owls  hence the convergent evolution on big front facing eyes but they mostly eat bugs- though they  will eat a mammal that happens close enough by, they have a hard time killing them so they’ll  just whack them on rocks until they die. But they mostly eat bugs, so instead of big,  powerful legs, they have a big, gigantic mouth. The bigger that mouth got, the higher  the odds of a successful catch so the   mouths just kept getting bigger- they’re so big.

And if you spend enough  time looking at Frogmouths,   you‘ll notice something that also checks the  box of like the human evolutionary cute brain. Their heads appear to be as big as the whole  rest of their body and that is nearly the case. Okay, it is not quite the case.

Their skulls are more like,  one-third of the size of the   rest of their skeletons – which  is still a pretty big ol’ noggin! It’s all their fluff that  makes it appear even bigger. And then if you go to the next level of like  cute brain check marks, turn it into a baby and it becomes suddenly clear that like Furbys  are infringing on the Frogmouth trademark.

Eugh, God my heart- I just wanna squish it. Frogmouths however are terrible parents,   possibly because they have such tiny useless  legs and also their beaks are so specialized. They’re just very bad at nest building.

They often lose eggs or chicks  to the perils of that, surprise, gravity-  but they will take  advantage of the nests of   more careful nest builders or human  objects that look like good nests. So that’s even cuter- what the heck. But then wait before I go, sometimes they  are not cute because they can shape shift.

Frogmouths sleep during the day and  they’re pretty small so they have to   be wary of predators and they have in their  toolkit a number of ways to deal with this. The first, is that they can just look like logs;   they even will sometimes sway in the  wind like they are a piece of the tree. But, when threatened, they can also  change shape to like scary looking things  or just weird looking- like  I don’t know what to do with this.

And the Tawny Frogmouth of  Australia has like a plan C and

D: plan C is just to peck at the enemy and  D is to spray poop all over it. They also have a plan E, which is to  open their mouths really, really wide. And the inside of their mouths  is light green or yellow,   which makes their beaks appear  even bigger and more threatening. Hooray for the Tawny Frogmouth- you  shape-shifting, cryptically disguised,   poop spraying, bug catching, nest  neglecting, grown up bird Furby.

I love you! If you missed this critter the first time around,  our Season Zero pin set is now available!  This set includes all 12 of the animals that we began  this Bizarre Beasts journey with on Vlogbrothers,   including this great Tawny Frogmouth  pin that really glows in the dark. To get the Season Zero Pin set,  visit!

I’m not sure whether this is surprising  or not, but one study from 2021 found that   the frogmouth is the ‘most Instagrammable’  bird, according to a method that normalizes   the number of likes an image receives  by its time since upload and its reach. This produces an ‘Image Aesthetic Appeal’ score   and the study compared these scores  for a bunch of different bird species. The frogmouth beat out much  more colorful and, well,   pretty birds, like the turaco and the hoopoe,  presumably based on sheer goofiness alone.

Another thing about frogmouths is that there are  13 species of them, and they’re found on both   sides of the invisible boundary that runs through  the islands of Indonesia known as Wallace’s Line. The Line is what’s called a biogeographic  boundary – basically, it’s a region of deep   water that keeps the animals of Asia  separate from those of Australia,   formed ultimately because of plate tectonics. And many birds won’t even cross the line,  despite being able to, you know, fly.

But the ancient ancestors of frogmouths did,  sometime between 44 and 27 million years ago. Based on where the oldest frogmouth fossils  have been found, they probably dispersed   from Asia to Australia, potentially by hopping  from island to island in the southwest Pacific. This episode was sponsored by Planet Wild, and online community of nature lovers that helps our planet bounce back from ocean pollution, deforestation, and species extinction.

Their online community is funding the restoration of ecosystems around the world to preserve our nature and wildlife through a monthly membership starting at $6. Every month, Planet Wild selects a new environmental partner project to work with and they document their work with video reports that you can find right here on YouTube. That way, everyone can see what the community's contribution has been used for and what the collective impact has been.

The videos on their YouTube channel are educational with a focus on innovative real-world environmental action. In their upcoming mission,

they're headed to Scotland to save forests in a way that might surprise you. They'll be chopping down trees!

Why? Check out their video linked here to find out! If you're looking for solutions to environmental problems, then Planet Wild is for you.

Thanks for watching, and thank you for supporting Bizarre Beasts! [♪♪OUTRO♪♪]