Tawny frogmouths Podargus strigoides, photographed by P. Garlick.

Belongs within: Neoaves.
Contains: Cypselomorphae.

The order Caprimulgiformes has usually been used to include the nightjars and similar birds; phylogenetic studies indicate that the Apodiformes (swifts and hummingbirds) are also nested within this group (Mayr 2002). All members of the traditional Caprimulgiformes are crepuscular or nocturnal birds with wide beaks, a large gape, and soft cryptically-coloured plumage, that feed on the wing (most are insectivores; the oilbird Steatornis caripensis is frugivorous); Apodiformes have lost some of these characters, but still feed on the wing. Morphological support for the total group of Caprimulgiformes (including Apodiformes) is, however, uncertain (Mayr 2002).

Basal groups within the Caprimulgiformes include the Podargidae (frogmouths), stocky birds with very broad gapes found in southern Asia and Australasia. The larger Australasian frogmouths of the genus Podargus feed on small vertebrates as well as insects; the smaller Asian frogmouths of the genus Batrachostomus are more strictly insectivorous.

<==Caprimulgiformes [Caprimulgi, Cypselomorphae, Podarginae]
    |  i. s.: Fluvioviridiavis Mayr & Daniels 2001 Ml02
    |           `--*F. platyrhamphus Mayr & Daniels 2001 Ml02
    |         Ventivorus Mourer-Chauviré 1988 Ml02
    |           `--*V. ragei Mourer-Chauviré 1988 Ml02
    |--+--Cypselomorphae Ma03
    |  `--Steatornithidae [Steatornithes, Steatornithinae] Ma03
    |       |--Prefica Olson 1987 Ma03, Ml02 [Preficinae]
    |       |    `--P. nivea Olson 1987 Ma03
    |       `--Steatornis Humboldt 1814 B94
    |            `--S. caripensis [incl. Caprimulgus steatornis] S66
    `--Podargidae MMJ03
         |  i. s.: Quercypodargus Mourer-Chauviré 1989 M05
         |           `--*Q. olsoni Mourer-Chauviré 1989 Ml02
         |         Masillapodargus Mayr 1999 M05
         |           `--*M. longipes Mayr 1999 Ml02
         |         Palaeopsittacus Harrison 1982 M05
         |           `--*P. georgei Harrison 1982 [=Poicephalus georgei] Ml02
         |--‘Bastrachostomus’ auritus JT12
         `--+--Batrachostomus Gould 1838 JT12, B94 [Batrachostomidae]
            |    |--B. affinis S89
            |    |--B. cornutus S89
            |    |--B. harterti JT12
            |    |--B. hodgsoni (Gray 1859) JT12, S89 [=Otothrix hodgsoni S89]
            |    |--B. javensis JT12
            |    |--B. mixtus JT12
            |    |--B. moniliger S55
            |    |--B. poliolophus JT12
            |    |--B. septimus Ma02
            |    `--B. stellatus S55
            `--+--Rigidipenna inexpectata JT12
               `--Podargus Vieillot 1818 JT12, B94
                    |  i. s.: P. cuvieri S66 [=P. strigoides cuvieri RN72]
                    |         P. plumiferus S66 [=P. ocellatus plumiferus Mo03]
                    |--P. ocellatus JT12
                    |    |--P. o. ocellatus Mo03
                    |    `--P. o. marmoratus Mo03
                    `--+--P. papuensis JT12
                       |    |--P. p. papuensis Mo03
                       |    |--P. p. baileyi Mo03
                       |    `--P. p. rogersi Mo03
                       `--P. strigoides (Latham 1801) JT12, WS48 [=Caprimulgus strigoides WS48]
                            |--P. s. strigoides S55
                            |--P. s. brachypterus Gould 1840 WS48
                            |--P. s. lilae Mo03
                            `--P. s. phalaenoides Gould 1839 (see below for synonymy) WS48

Podargus strigoides phalaenoides Gould 1839 [incl. P. s. dendyi Mathews 1912, P. s. mungi Mathews 1912] WS48

*Type species of generic name indicated


[B94] Bock, W. J. 1994. History and nomenclature of avian family-group names. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 222: 1-281.

[JT12] Jetz, W., G. H. Thomas, J. B. Joy, K. Hartmann & A. Ø. Mooers. 2012. The global diversity of birds in space and time. Nature 491: 444-448.

[Ma02] Mayr, G. 2002. Osteological evidence for paraphyly of the avian order Caprimulgiformes (nightjars and allies). Journal für Ornithologie 143: 82-97.

[Ma03] Mayr, G. 2003. On the phylogenetic relationships of trogons (Aves, Trogonidae). Journal of Avian Biology 34 (1): 81-88.

[M05] Mayr, G. 2005. The Paleogene fossil record of birds in Europe. Biological Reviews 80: 515-542.

[MMJ03] Mayr, G., A. Manegold & U. S. Johansson. 2003. Monophyletic groups within ‘higher land birds’ – comparison of morphological and molecular data. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 41: 233-248.

[Ml02] Mlíkovský, J. 2002. Cenozoic Birds of the World. Part 1: Europe. Ninox Press: Praha.

[Mo03] Morcombe, M. 2003. Field Guide to Australian Birds, 2nd ed. Steve Parish Publishing.

[RN72] Rutgers, A., & K. A. Norris (eds.) 1972. Encyclopaedia of Aviculture vol. 2. Blandford Press: London.

[S89] Salvadori, T. 1889. Viaggio di Leonardo Fea nella Birmania e nelle regioni vicine. XIX. – Uccelli raccolti nei Monti Carin a nord-est di Tounghoo, nel Pegù presso Rangoon e Tounghoo e nel Tenasserim presso Malewoon. Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Genova, Serie 2a 7: 369-438.

[S66] Sclater, P. L. 1866. Notes upon the American Caprimulgidae. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1866: 123-145.

[S55] Steinbacher, J. 1955. Über die Schwanzmauser der Eulen (Strigidae) und Nachtschwalben (Caprimulgidae). Senckenbergiana Biologica 36: 235-240.

[WS48] Whittell, H. M. & D. L. Serventy. 1948. A systematic list of the birds of Western Australia. Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery of Western Australia, Special Publication 1: 1-126.


  1. Arena's comment: "Hi Christopher
    I am wondering if you sell rights to your images? I am not looking for exclusive rights, just an image of frogmouths for a children's counting book I am writing (conservation message) using photos of Australian fauna. Love your frogmouth one - I need either three or four -" pretending to be bark".
    My website is Email - [removed by administrator]. Thank you for your time. Arena Mallon

  2. Hi Arena,

    As I point out in the disclaimer, I'm not the creator of the images on this site, so they're not mine to sell. The source of the image is linked to in the caption; hopefully that will allow you to contact the original owner.


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