The Great Eared Nightjar aka The Bird That Looks Like a Dragon

By: Sam Watanuki | Published: Dec 01, 2023

Meet the great eared nightjar, a unique bird from the forests of Southeast Asia, known for its dragon-like features and incredible survival skills.

It’s a bird that looks like a dragon, resembling something out of a fantasy novel, captivating with its distinct ear-tufts and striking appearance, and thriving in the Asian wilderness.

Fantasy Comes to Life

The great eared nightjar, often compared to mythical creatures, blurs the line between reality and the fantastical as its own sort of “dragon bird.”

Great Eared-Nightjar, Tangkoko, Sulawesi

Source: Nigel Voaden/Wikipedia

Resembling a mythical creature, the majestic bird possesses a captivating blend of characteristics found in owls, hawks, and extraterrestrial aliens. Its enchanting presence brings a touch of wonder and fantasy to the real world.

The Bird's "Superpowers"

The great eared nightjar possesses expert camouflage, seamlessly blending into its surroundings with remarkable precision. Its feathers, meticulously patterned to mimic the intricacies of its habitat, provide unparalleled concealment. Additionally, this bird boasts exceptional night vision, allowing it to navigate and hunt effortlessly under the cover of darkness.

Great eared nightjar painting

Source: Elizabeth Gwillim/Wikipedia

The nightjar’s nocturnal habits and ability to blend into its environment are key to evading predators and thriving in the wild.

Understanding the Great Eared Nightjar

The great eared nightjar was first discovered in the early 19th century in Southeast Asia, and not much is known about its general behavior and lifestyle.

Great Eared Nightjar

Source: Michaël Abts/

This small bird, with its haunting call and modest size, has intrigued zoologists since its discovery.

Geographic Range and Habitat

Great eared nightjar birds inhabit specific regions in Southeast Asia, making them a unique species in this part of the world.

Map of Southeast Asia

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Found in the rainforests of Thailand and the Philippines, this dragon-like bird has found a way to thrive in some of the most diverse and challenging ecosystems on Earth.

Evading Predators

As mentioned, the great eared nightjar’s camouflage and night vision play a crucial role in its survival.

Great Eared Nightjar up close

Source: @KP11Studios/X

The bird’s strategic use of natural camouflage and swift flight patterns make it a master of evasion and escaping predators.


Night Vision and Nocturnal Activity

Specialized eyes enable the great eared nightjar to navigate and hunt in the dark.

Great Eared Nightjar

Source: KP11Studios/X

Just like cats and crocodiles, this bird has evolved with incredible night vision! It can effortlessly navigate and thrive in the darkness of nocturnal environments. With its exceptional visual acuity in low-light conditions, it can spot prey, avoid obstacles, and ensure its survival in the darkness of the night.


Nesting and Reproduction

Unlike many birds that nest in trees, these nightjars prefer the safety of the ground for laying their eggs. They typically lay a single egg, nestled discreetly among fallen leaves or underbrush, relying on their exceptional camouflage to protect it from predators.

Nightjar on ground

Source: Aviceda/Wikipedia

The incubation period, lasting about four weeks, is a testament to their dedication as parents. During this time, the nightjars are exceptionally vigilant, blending seamlessly into their surroundings while keeping a watchful eye over their precious offspring.


Capturing Prey in Flight

The great eared nightjar is a bird with a big mouth that exhibits remarkable aerial skills in capturing its insect prey.

Great Eared Nightjar with beak open

Source: @KP11Studios/X

This big-mouthed bird has some impressive hunting skills that clearly show how it has adapted to catching prey directly in the air.


Myth and Legend

Nightjars, including the great eared nightjar, have inspired numerous myths and legends across cultures, including being referred to as the “satanic nightjar.”

Great Eared Nightjar flying

Source: Devashish Deb/X

These mysterious birds, with their eerie calls echoing through the night and their ghostly associations in folklore, have sparked our imagination and fueled countless tales of superstition. From haunting legends to spine-chilling encounters, these birds have captivated storytellers and intrigued curious minds for generations.


Human Fascination with the Nightjar

Humans are drawn to the great eared nightjar for its unique appearance and elusive nature.

Great Eared Nightjar

Source: @SarahAMcManus/X

Its mysterious presence and dragon-like features continue to captivate bird enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.


Spotting the Elusive Nightjar

Spotting the elusive great eared nightjar is a challenge that rewards the patient and observant nature enthusiast. These nocturnal birds, known for their remarkable camouflage and secretive habits, are often heard but rarely seen.

Great Eared Nightjar up close

Source: @RookshocksShack/X

The best time to spot them is during twilight hours, either at dawn or dusk, when they are most active. With a blend of stealth, patience, and a keen ear for their unique birdsong, one might just be lucky enough to witness these mystical, dragon-like creatures in their natural environment.