Meet a real-life dragon – The Great Eared Nightjar; it just appears the same as a dragon.


Have you ever seen a dragon? Now you may ask me if I’m kidding since no dragons can be seen in the present times, yet some call it a mythical creature. Yes, I’m just kidding 🙂 no one has seen a dragon. But there is an animal that bears a resemblance to a dragon.

The Great Eared Nightjar: If you have watched the movie “How to Train Your Dragon”, the creature we are to learn about is “Toothless” from the film.
The face cut and the small fluffy hair on its head catch our attention at a glance and, at the same time, contrasts it with other birds.

The scientific name of the bird is Lyncornis macrotis. Caprimulgidae is its family and belongs to class Aves. Nightjars are abundant in Southeast Asia.

Credit: Bhanu Singh

The night-loving bird is divided into 5 subspecies: Lyncornis macrotis macropterous, Lyncornis macrotis cerviniceps, Lyncornis macrotis macrotis, Lyncornis macrotis jacobsoni, and Lyncornis macrotis bourdilloni.

Credit: Dr. Abhilash

The Great eared nightjar was first said to be discovered in the year 1831 by an Irish zoologist named Nicholas Aylward Vigors. The discovery was made based on information collected at Manilla in the Philippines. Lyncornis is a blend of the Ancient Greek words ‘lunx’ and ‘bird,’ with lunkos meaning “lynx” and ornis meaning “bird.” The adjective macrotis comes from the Ancient Greek makrōtēs, which means “long-eared” (makros meaning “long” and ous, oustos meaning “ear”).

The tufts of feathers over the creature’s head nearly look like ears adding the long-eared look to its appearance. The bird’s feathers are a unique combination of browns that helps them blend in with the environment in which they are positioned. However, colouring varies per subfamily. The birds have speckled and spotted brown upperparts and patch underparts with brown striped patterns. Grayish-white, cinnamon, or buff speckles and dots can be seen. In-flight, the huge nightjar’s broad barred wings, white neck band, and long tail can be clearly noticed.

Credit: Abhinand Chandran

Their size ranges from 31 to 41 cm, making them the most prominent member in the genus in length (12 to 16 in). Males weigh 131 g (4.6 oz) on average, while females weigh 151 g (5.3 oz), earning them the family’s second-heaviest species after the Nacunda nighthawk.

Credit: Biju PB

Great eared nightjars may be found in India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, among other Southeast Asian nations. The population of this species, however, differs by subspecies. Their native habitat consists mainly of subtropical or wet lowland tropical forests, scrublands, and grasses, with some forest margins and clearings thrown in for good measure.

Credit: Rajkumar Das

The nightjar family of birds is known for being isolated in nature, and Great eared nightjars are thought to follow suit, yet they do get together during mating. Depending on where you are, the mating season varies. The breeding season in southern India, for example, runs from January to May. Their nest is a scrape on the earth, and the clutches contain just one egg, which is oval in form and is incubated with both members. The chick is nicely concealed amongst the leaves in this manner.

Credit: Narupon Nimpaiboon
Credit: Ken Behrens
Chien Lee | Flickr
Chien Lee | Flickr

These birds, like other nightjars, are nocturnal and have a distinctive cry that comprises a harsh tsiik, a pause, and a two-syllable ba-haaww. They eat insects like moths and beetles, which they may grab their food while in flight. They attack by vision, using the night sky to silhouette their prey.

A distinguishing feature is their huge mouth, which extends to just below the centre of the eyes, despite their beak being short and feeble. Long, stiff bristles extend outwards and downwards from the sides of the upper jaw, below the lores, increasing the efficiency of consuming insects.

Credit: Porag Jyoti Phukan (youtube)
Credit: Nigel Voaden via Wikimedia Commons

The Great eared nightjar is widespread across its range, and its population does not appear endangered. As a result, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has designated the Great eared nightjar as a species of Least Concern.

Credit: praveen pandian | Flickr
Credit: Benjamin Naden | Flickr

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