|Common Nicknames||Givrais’ Bird, Lightning's Sister|
Thunderbirds have long been associated with the natural phenomena of thunder and lightning in all three regions they once lived in. The Western Thunderbird today survives within the borders of Ol Lavei Fyror, unbothered for centuries just like the Altalar who observe it gladly. The Central Thunderbird was native to areas of Corontium; it was rendered extinct by the Ailor by 100 AC. Finally, there is the Eastern Thunderbird, known to the denizens of Farah’deen for centuries. All three subgroups have been tied into helping create natural weather patterns, at least in the mythologies and old writings of the ancients. Today, their cloak of feathers is their main draw and will fetch a tidy sum due to its deep blue coloration and association mentioned above with the weather's mystical powers.
Thunderbirds have a unique history in Aloria, and also one of the longest; the bird’s three breeds, Western, Central and Eastern, were all noted from the earliest days of the people living in the areas they frequented. In Daen, when the Altalar pushed into Hyarroc as Talea Sunvidal expanded her growing Empire, the Fyror Mountains were one of the first major pieces of terrain encountered. Within the high peaks of these mountains, the Western Thunderbird existed alongside the Fire-tail Paradise Bird, the blue and red creatures flying through the air often in a symmetrical dance of harmony. Both bird populations remained intact as Altalar principalities developed at the high altitudes, with habitat destruction mitigated by long-term peace dominating the region, which has remained the case until today. The Central Thunderbird, meanwhile, existed in southern areas of the Regalian Archipelago and areas of nearby Talamoor. However, the spread of Ailor and the bird’s ties to the natural elements made them highly sought after. First, the birds were merely sought out by those seeking religious contact, but then, ambition for profit and prestige brought them down in the dozens. By 100 AC, they were extinct. Finally, there are the Eastern Thunderbirds, also known as the Givrais Thunderbird, located in northern Farah’deen. Their form long pin-pricked the skies of the north and were frequently related to Qadir gods or goddesses of air, storms, wind, and especially lightning due to their unique mentality by those living there. Eventually, the Great Storm came, but it seems that these birds escaped the chaos. Ever since then, they have remained in the region, dodging most hunters sent to fell them.
The Thunderbird is one of the larger birds in Aloria, capable of reaching a length of four and a half to five feet, a wingspan of up to eleven feet, and a weight of around 40 to 50 pounds. The Thunderbird has vibrant blue eyes with black sclera around the iris, and a sharp gray beak pointed down. Their heads have a line of smooth feathers from the beak to the back of the head while there are tufts of less-orderly feathers around their eyes which puff out to the back of their head. Their bodies have a similarly puffed chest, with their feet a light gray and slim in appearance, though their actual talons are often black. Still, a scant few have been reported as white over the years. Their tailfeathers are often long and thickly bunched, though most are highly flexible and light, making them easily shifted by the wind. The Thunderbird has a very cool color palette of different blues, carrying across their entire bodies with no specific pattern beyond a pale coloration on their chest and the underside of their wing feathers, and a darker tone on the rest of their form.
The Thunderbird has an equal population ratio of males to females. However, male Thunderbirds are often larger than their female counterparts, often puffing out their feathers as a show of dominance and masculinity to further emphasize this effect. On the other hand, females usually have tail feathers longer than those of males by an inch or two.
- Western Thunderbird: The Western Thunderbird is often made up of the smaller members of the species, if a bird as tall as a Dwarf can be called small. The animal was said to have an affiliation with rain, producing it in the clouds of the Fyror Mountains and creating clouds and mist together with the Fire-tail Paradise Bird.
- Central Thunderbird: The Central Thunderbird was said to have some of the largest members of the species within its population. They were also apparently tied to snow, hail, and mountaintop gales, and also supposedly had white feathers on their face. However, their extinction has rendered discovering the truth of this fruitless.
- Eastern Thunderbird: The Eastern Thunderbird is considered the standard version of the bird, existing at a range of sizes. They have the clearest ties to lightning and storms, though their assistance in forming them has long been dismissed.
Life Span and Development
Thunderbirds are born inside large, hard-shelled eggs in clutches as big as three atop cliffs, perches and other high mountainous areas of southern Daen and northern Farah’deen. After they hatch, the mother will continue to remain with them (having already sat on the eggs for several weeks) while the father will return from hunting and regurgitate digested food into the mouth of his young, aiding the chicks in gaining their strength. In a matter of days, they will develop flight feathers, learning to fly and preparing their take off into the wild. Their maturation process from here is quite swift, reaching maturity at three months. They leave the nest at this point, and within a year, can have their mate or their own nest. Thunderbirds can live for up to 30 years, though tales are told of unique individuals reaching ages as old as 50.
Thunderbirds are naturally predator birds and prey on various smaller animals, from other birds to small mammals or reptiles. They do this at a range of heights, and it appears to be a personal preference for the species on where exactly they target their hunting efforts. They have been noted as highly intelligent, as especially when hunting reptiles or mammals, they will sometimes take rocks and use them to bash their prey to death. While quite crude, it does indicate a form of tool usage rarely seen in larger birds. Thunderbirds also have an innate sense for when and where lightning is to strike, often collecting in a loose column and gliding around the site until the bolt cracks down, at which point they scatter and then head to the next area about to be struck. There is no information on why they do this, or how it is possible, though most assume some magical connections given the creature’s supposed ties to the formation of weather patterns. When encountering Aloria’s Races, the Thunderbird largely ignores them though they have been known to suddenly attack, perhaps when their “patience” has run out. Still, other times they just fly away. If approached by hostile individuals, they will fight back, though they will quickly flee once blood has been drawn.
Territory and Groupings
Thunderbirds live in close-knit colonies of up to six families and their related offspring. Their exact nesting locations are varied but generally exist at or just below or above the cloud layer in the mountains. However, in northern Farah’deen, they tend to favor outcroppings on high cliff or canyon walls, in addition to the pre-existing habitat of mountains. Thunderbirds often flock toward lightning in their set colony, however, during the remains of a major typhoon that rolled into the Fyror Mountains in 189 AC, where a single, massive, devastating lightning strike occurred, as many as three colonies together gathered around the site, creating a gigantic flock of Thunderbirds.
- A Thunderbird’s cry is one of the loudest out of all known birds.
- The unofficial name for the Eastern Thunderbird was given for the merchant and game hunter Givrais Salondre who brought the first corpse of one of these birds back to Ithania. He had hunted the animal in northern Farah’deen.
- There are scattered reports from the height of the Allorn Empire that some Western Thunderbirds bashed the skulls of slaves in with rocks when the slaves were tasked with clearing out a Thunderbird colony. This is the only known report of Thunderbirds directly killing members of Aloria’s Races.