Vampires are among my favorite mythical monsters, as everyone who knows me already can figure out. One of the typical things we see with vampires is their tendency to shapeshift into bats, which is super neat. However, I support the idea of variation and making changes in traditional lore. I do it in my own works with my living vampires. Today, I’d like to discuss some different flying-type shapeshifting forms you might want to utilize when writing vampires–and, of course, why.
Crows are awesome animals who are extremely intelligent to boot. They fit the gothic, dark fantasy of vampires, without being bats, of course. This might be a ‘typical’ choice, but I love them, so I’m going to include them anyway. One of my vampires actually turns into a crow, and he features in a book called The Dancing Crow. Aside from their dark appearances and the fact that some associate them with bad omens (which is silly, in my opinion), they can be very playful and love shiny things. You can give your characters some fun personality with these birds.
Many thumbs up for crows as an animal to shift into. It’s the classic alternative to a bat, I feel, right along with the raven. If your vampire is social, I think it works for them as well.
(9) Barn Owl
A vampire that chooses to turn into a barn owl would be a hoot. Oh come on, I had to! Barn owls specifically, however, have a very eerie sound. An article on The Angry Noodle features them for a sound mythical beings could make, but I also think they would work as a transformation for vampires. A character from my book turns into a barn owl, however she is a human, not a vampire. These birds are just too cool not to use.
As I mentioned, they make some really interesting noises with their ‘demonic’-sounding screeches. This could work for your vampires, depending on your lore. I imagine a vampire that keeps the owl’s eyes, a deep jet black, would also be super eerie, and this could be implemented as well.
(8) Lammergeier (Bearded Vulture)
The Bearded Vulture is a fascinating animal and quite the sight to see. This animal is considered the cleanup crew of the mountains, where it devours dead flesh. However, this vulture also eats bone marrow! That’s right, it will drop the bones of animals so they can crack on the mountains, and it can eat the nutrient-rich marrow inside. This bird also wears makeup, for reasons not really known quite yet. It’s true, however–it will dye its feathers in the colors you see in that photo.
This bird fits for vampires well, because just look at its aesthetic. Its carnivorous diet fits well, and it sticks out from other vultures because of its bone-eating habits. Vultures are big, bulky birds, and would be quite a ‘tanky’ choice for vampires to shapeshift into. Could you imagine a vampire with eyes like that?
Take a look at this kea’s wicked beak. It’s hooked and could deal quite a bit of damage… and it does. This is a omnivorous parrot, who will devour things like lizards and other bird chicks. Most wouldn’t think of a parrot with vampires, but this fellow is the real deal. Besides, some might want their vampires a little bit colorful. These birds are also incredibly intelligent, but that’s typical with parrots.
Like with the barn owl, retaining the eyes of the kea would be SUPER eerie if the vampire returned to their humanoid form. I love just how creepy jet black eyes look, and apply it to my own vampires sometimes. But yeah, if you want to bloody your vampire’s beak in animal form, the kea is a good way to go.
The moth is a pretty neat night bug, and the first bug to feature on this list. I did not want to suggest just birds, because something like a moth would mix things up quite a bit. These creatures are beautiful in my eyes, and come with so many colors and patterns. They are the butterflies of the night, like how butterflies are the moths of the day. I suspect you’d take a while selecting the proper moth for your vampire to transform into. How about the blood-drinking moth?
However, and this is something to keep in mind for other bug-related critters on this list, their wings are fragile. They can run small, since they are insects, but perhaps your vampire has enhancement magic for both strength and size. Imagine a gigantic moth flying toward you in the middle of the night? I think that might frighten at least someone.
The Dragonfly is an interesting choice for a vampire form, because like with any bug on this list, it’s not typically what you’d see vampires turning into. This is mainly because they are delicate, but when you look at the dragonfly, you realize that they are mighty hunters. I assume there would be some magic to negate the general fragility, and the design of this bug is really neat. Plus, with those eyes, the vampire could spy quite a bit in bug form.
Ironically, they would need to avoid bats in these forms, unless they were gigantic forms of the dragonfly. Which is also possible, but horrifying to imagine, to be honest.
The Cicada isn’t the nicest bug to look at, but it’s featured in horror a few times. I figured this could be applicable to vampires, in that sense, even if it’s not the prettiest of bugs. The call of the cicada can be rather eerie, the high buzzing noise you hear during the warmer seasons. They are a bulky insect, but like the others, the vampire would likely need to enhance their strength as an insect to avoid being squashed or devoured by larger predators in form.
Imagine if the vampire could continue to make those noises in humanoid form as well. It would certainly be unusual. Even more so if they somehow kept the wings of this insect. Rather than bird or bat wings… these. On their backs. The design would be odd, but a very unique one. Of course, these bugs are not carnivorous, but the next member of our list is.
(3) Flesh-Eating Beetles
These critters, Dermestids, can fly at specific temperatures (on the higher end) but still count for that reason. Plus, they are too cool not to include. These beetles devour decaying flesh very delicately, and they have no interest in living flesh at all. They will strip a corpse in a short matter of time, which is great for those who want to preserve skeletons. While vampires are typically seen devouring live flesh, this animal still works well for a transformation idea purely because of the theme.
Plus, your vampire lore might rend them more zombie-like. Or, you could modify the idea of Dermestid itself, and turn it into a live-flesh-eating-beetle or blood-drinking beetle in form specifically for your vampire. In fantasy, there really is no limit, so you can definitely utilize these concepts and twist them.
The oxpecker is definitely not something you would think of when considering vampires. But these ‘helpful’ birds have a little secret… they’re vampires. In reality, they actually drink blood of their victims, going as far as pecking at wounds to keep them open for their benefit. This will weaken, and sometimes kill, the animal, as predators go for weaker ones. This entire concept works for the vampire, because these birds are bloodthirsty. This is relatively new information too, it surprised me when I first learned this as well.
I feel like people would not expect one of these birds to be a vampire. Crows, owls, and bats are the typical thought, but oxpeckers? No way. That’s where they’ll be wrong, however. I encourage the unusual use of these birds for a flying-animal transformation, because it’d bring unique flavor and be extremely appropriate.
The Butcher Bird has to be among the most badass on this list, to be honest. Imagine an unassuming songbird that looks innocent enough, only to discover it impales its prey on spikes. This has to be my favorite type of plot twist, where something looks perfectly innocent, but has an incredibly dark secret. Out of all of the creatures I mentioned on this list, the shrike wins by a landslide for the most unique and appropriate animal, aside from a bat, that a vampire can shapeshift into.
I myself will be having a shrike-based vampire at some point, likely a descendant of Vlad the Impaler in my Kingdoms of Blood series (for those of you who know my works, they’d be related to Ares & Jasper). I definitely will keep the vampire eye color a jet black, like the shrike’s gaze. You never know what’s behind those beady little eyes until you end up on the dinner plate.
Well, there you have it for this list! I hope that gave you ideas for your vampires, or possibly other monsters you’d like to utilize transformation on. If these inspired your ideas, feel free to tell me on twitter! Or, you can comment here as well. I would love to know your thoughts, and possible missing animals you would include on this list, along with why.