|Official Name||Dragged Crow|
|Common Nicknames||Black Messenger, Trained Crow|
The Dragged Crow is an easily distinguished bird despite its similarities to the common crow. Larger and more formidable than its cousin, these creatures are capable of forming hostile murders in the wild, and are known for their shrill shrieking cry. Making for excellent messengers in captivity, they currently serve as a valuable means of communication across the Ithanian Sovereignty and the Regalian Empire at large.
Dragged Crows have long pestered the people of Ithania, with reports going back to Nelfin times, mentioning flocks of large crow-like birds attacking convoys of slaves, militiamen or traders heading through their forest territory. Despite their aggressive nature, some Nelfin have successfully studied them, as evidence seems to show that they had domesticated these birds to serve as personal messengers. As the Elven Empire broke down and more slaves escaped, some thought to steal their master’s messenger birds to use for fast communication. Eventually, the Ithanian Sovereignty adopted the creatures as their primary messaging system while it fell out of favor in the Inheritor States of Teled Methen and other sections of the broken empire.
Today, the Dragged Crow helps to carry financial reports, wedding invitations, Imperial mandates and more across both the Sovereignty and the Regalian Empire at large. While a good number exist in captivity, many more populate the forests of Ithania and continue their aggressive behavior. Due to the recent Bone Horror Crisis, many Dragged Crows have been flown ragged relaying military, population and statistical information across the damaged Empire. Many predict that the birds will continue to serve this critical role throughout the rebuilding effort.
Dragged Crows share several traits with their cousin the common crow, including their black plumage, the tendency to gather into murders and their black feet and beaks. However, there are several important distinctions that the Dragged Crow poses, the biggest being their size. When compared to a common crow, they sport a far larger length of between 24-26 inches with a wingspan of 37-41 inches. Their chests are also more prominent and puffed forward, used to help them vocalize their distinctive shrill cry. Other minor differences are that Dragged Crow feathers always have a green sheen to them, and that all members of the species possess pale blue eyes.
The wild Dragged Crow has maintained a relatively equal gender binary given how the bird mates for life. In captivity, however, there has been a steadily rising preference in males in comparison to females, as the males of the species are known to be able to resist harsh weather conditions and predators slightly better than their female counterparts.
Life Span and Development
Dragged Crows are born in clutches of two to six light brown or purple eggs with brown and gray speckles. After a little over two weeks, the eggs begin to hatch, and the newborn hatchlings immediately depend on their mother for food; though the nest often provides adequate warmth. The mother stays and broods with them for a further two weeks, keeping an eye on her offspring as they hop around and grow accustomed to the world. After 35 days, most of the hatchlings transition into fledglings. Their soft down slowly sheds away as their flight feathers begin to appear, allowing them to take off by the two month mark after their birth. Any that fall to the ground are often cared for by their parents as well as adults of the entire murder, who also keep the youth safe from possible predators. After four months since their hatching, Dragged Crows are considered self-sufficient and tend to stay in the murder, finding mates once they have fully matured at the five-month mark. Dragged Crows go on to live for up to ten years in the wild, while domesticated ones can survive for up to fifteen.
Dragged Crows—like common crows—are known for their intellect, but their flocking styles and use as trained messengers are unique. Dragged Crows have a mob mentality, forming close ties with their family and always keeping them in the murder. They also carry a nasty disposition in the wild, dive bombing and shrieking in large numbers at threats close to their nesting trees.
In captivity however, the Crow is a different story. While they retain their intellect and mob mentality, they have grown used to the Humans and Nelfin that handle them. Overall, domesticated Dragged Crows rarely get irritated, but they have been known to peck or skree at Varrans should the other get too close or do something they dislike. Crows are still occasionally tamed from the wild, but the practice is considered to be dying out, as the domesticated population seems well enough suited for future reproductive needs. To send their messages, trainers need to separate the families of birds by sending one or two members of the murder to the location they wish to communicate. When there is a note to be sent, they tie a message tube to the Crow’s leg and release the individuals back and forth. The intelligent avians then travel kilometers to find each other, determined to maintain contact with their fellow flock members.
Territory and Groupings
In the wild, Dragged Crows operate in flocks called murders that claim their territory over regions of the Ithanian forest. The aggressive birds often attack those who get too close to their nesting trees, especially during mating season. Similarly, domesticated Dragged Crows group up into murders, but these are carefully curated and maintained by trainers to ensure they remain small. While in flight, these messenger crows cannot be territorial, as they are drawn to their distant murder members. Murders do not attack these lone fliers, but when two murders meet, often over a territorial dispute, it results in a whirling storm of violence. However, Dragged Crows rarely kill each other in these scuffles.
- A scholar once noted how his pet Dragged Crows hated getting near Magnetite. Researching it a bit further, he found that the unique metal had a very adverse effect on the birds, resulting on them being disoriented and distressed.
- Messages are often carried on Dragged Crows through either tubes attached to their legs, or to their chest via harness.
- A common myth in some Old Gods sects maintains that these creatures are souls given form by Alu and serve to convey her tidings of death across the world. This belief probably arose because the only time the Crow arrived in Northern towns was to report on deaths of the men levied from the area to serve elsewhere.