Sri Lankan Frogmouth, Coorg
In a land where a lot of the natives trace their ancestry to the Macedonian armies of Alexander the Great, there exists one bashful prince whose very name bespeaks roots in an Emerald Isle much closer to home. The Sri Lankan Frogmouth, so called because of his wide, gaping mouth that resembles a frog’s, is rumoured to haunt these parts, apart from his native Lanka. Heard more than he’s seen, his reclusiveness is the stuff of legend, even managing to elude veteran naturalists and ornithologists. It wasn’t until the 1930s when the great ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali discovered him first in Thattekad (Kerala), and it took till 1990 before he was rediscovered by his protégé, Dr. Sugathan. So, if you’re a comely lass or a princess even, you’ll have to find this Frog Prince first, before trying to kiss him. What definitely doesn’t help is that he has the rare ability to use his plumage as an invisibility cloak to blend into his surroundings and avoid discovery. And he uses this shield all day long, looking like a broken branch, thus keeping out of the spotlight as he catches up on his beauty sleep after partying through the night. Like most dissolute princelings, this elusive Royal is also a night bird, and prefers to play by the moon’s light, when he sheds his cloak and his bashfulness to reveal a voracious appetite for other forms of night-life. You’ll hear his loud, eerie ‘laughing’ call at the onset of dusk, heralding the hunt, and another call, mostly at the crack of dawn to signal the closure of the party. So, if you’re an insect or a small vertebrate looking for a night out, you’d do well not to emulate a certain princess iconised by ‘The Brothers Grimm’: smooching this frog is guaranteed to be the ‘kiss of death’.