Nightjar distracting Clouded Monitor from her nest

posted in: Intraspecific, Reptiles | 3

An exciting encounter between a Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus) and a huge Clouded Monitor (Varanus nebulosus) at the Singapore Botanic Gardens recently caused some excitement among nature photographers.

Ash Foo and his friend were watching the adult female nightjar and her chicks, waiting to capture them opening their mouths – see HERE. Suddenly they noticed a monitor lizard entering the roosting area. The monitor lizard stopped to survey its surroundings. When the lizard moved forward the chicks flew off. The adult nightjar suddenly flew out from the shade and landed to the right of the lizard with wings flapping, pretending to be injured, in order to distract the lizard (above). When the lizard inched forward again, the nightjar flew to its left side, again flapping its wings (below). According to Subaraj Rajathurai, this is a “broken wing” strategy, often used by ground-nesting birds such as shorebirds (see comment below).

This caused the lizard to move away from the chicks and slowly crawled away (below).

Around the same period, there was another encounter where a group of bee-eaters mobbed another monitor lizard that trespassed into the former’s breeding area LINK.

As the population of monitor lizards in Singapore increases, such encounters are bound to become common.

Ash Foo
25th May 2918

Note: Thanks to Dr Leong Tzi Ming for the identification of the Clouded Monitor (Varanus nebulosus).


3 Responses

  1. Leong Tzi Ming

    The lizard is actually a Clouded Monitor (Varanus nebulosus).

  2. Thanks for the correction.

  3. The adult female nightjar is using what is known as the “broken wing” technique to distract the monitor from her chicks. This method is often used by ground nesting birds such as shorebirds.

    It is not quite fair to blame the incident on increasing monitor populations as these sort of natural incidents have always ben a norm and we cannot be bias toward the bird, as the monitor has to feed too.


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