|Official Name||Regalian Spriggan|
|Common Nicknames||Sprigs, Fairy Flapper|
|Habitat||Crown Isle of the Regalian Archipelago|
Regalian Spriggans are beautiful, fairy-like birds native to the Regalian Crown Isle. This strange bird is a feature of many fairy tales and superstitions told to children, namely due to their appearance, which is often likened to a pixie’s, or a sprite’s. Their uniquely green colored bodies are a result of the birds’ incessant need to coat their bodies in moss, foliage, and any other green matter, using a pointed beak to assist with this. They are common bird in Regalia but are also very difficult to spot, due to their impressive camouflage.
Regalian Spriggans have existed in Regalia for at least four centuries, predating the original settlement of the Crown Isle. During this time, the Spriggan was a widespread bird, even more so than currently, and also existed throughout the Regalian Archipelago - not just the Crown Isle. Settlers, upon encountering them, immediately began weaving superstitions about fairies living in the woods and forests, mistaking their mossy coat for clothing and their glossy feathers for fairy wings. Even their distinctive, sprightly song was interpreted as the giggling of some mystical spirit. At first, the settlers were very respectful and sensitive toward the creatures, seeing them capable of magic to defend themselves, or perhaps blessings to reward such behavior. It was not uncommon to leave gifts of food for the birds, who ultimately landed and skittered to the treats, snatching them up and flying off. Some early explorers even took the trees’ hollows, that the birds often disappeared into to escape predators, to be small fairy homes.
Over time, however, the rise of Unionism and the coalescence of the Regalian Empire began their downfall. Unionism had no role for these creatures to play in their mythology and so they began to be hunted to Elven creature of the Faith of Estel. Their profile also fell into pure myth as wars ravaged the Archipelago, either at the hands of nations fighting the advancing might of Regalia or against each other. By the year 100 AC, all Spriggan populations outside of the Crown Isle were assumed extinct. Ironically, at the heart of the Empire, the bird thrived as the urban landscape afforded them great protection and as the city grew, Elven populations grew, and the city’s Temple of Estel became a favorite spot for the birds. By 290 AC, it was a populous animal in the Holy City, but in the decade and a half since then, their numbers have tumbled. War against the Elves, anti-Estellian sentiments and great destruction in the city itself inflicted by several occupations have severely disrupted the animal’s population and their nesting grounds. For now, this disruption remains, and they are a rare sight to the latest generation of children and migrants being raised in this capital city of the Regalian Empire.
The Regalian Spriggan is between five and a half to five and three-quarter inches from beak to tailfeather with a wingspan of seven and a half to seven and three-quarter inches. The Spriggan has a small head, with large black eyes and a long, hooked beak which help it pick and arrange moss on to it’s back and rump. A short neck connects this head to a plumped body supported by two muscular and long legs, though these are often hidden under thick moss and other green matter, which allows them to propel themselves forward at surprising speeds when on the ground. It’s rear tail feathers are obscured by moss, resulting in green and brown colorations along with the odd small flower. The animal’s other feathers are all colored black, kept this way by a natural oil excreted when the bird preens itself. Occasionally, if this oil is not properly cleaned it can wear down the beak slightly in a case of “beak rot” but it never gets to the point that the animal cannot use their mouth.
Despite being very common on the Crown Isle, the species is almost entirely limited to the island, with tales and sayings of smaller communities elsewhere in the Archipelago. These rumors are, however, unsubstantiated. Males and females are often hard to tell apart from a distance, due to the random assortment of moss on their bodies, but their tail feathers often give them away. Males often favor brown-ish moss and dried leaves to coat themselves, whereas females tend to favor greener matter.
Life Span and Development
Generally, the Regalian Spriggan has a very short lifespan of around seven years. Spriggans don't have much in protection against predators in the wild except their mossy camouflage and oily feathers. Female Spriggans will only pick healthy males, making them incredibly picky suitors. Normally the males with the largest nests or mossy coatings will attract the females, while Spriggans that don't excel at this will die out. When Spriggans do mate, it is for life. Mating usually occurs during summer, when the species is most active, producing 6-7 spotted and greenish eggs. Spriggan young are helpless, relying entirely on their mother to provide food and warmth, but grow quickly. They can normally fly by three weeks old, and leave the nest at around four or five weeks to fend for themselves - resulting in approximately half of Regalian Spriggans dying in their first year.
Regalian Spriggans are intelligent and agile birds that favor land instead of air in most situations, to blend into the moss and lichen there. They rarely fly away from something that startles them and instead hop around on the ground and skitter into any dark hole or crevice nearby. They are also, therefore, very energetic and sprightly birds, hopping from branch to branch, or running through foliage. They rarely fly, due to their elaborate mossy covering being rather heavy and delicate, but if need be they are as skittish and quick in flight as on the ground. Their coatings are also why Spriggans are very passive, peaceful birds, as they lack the mobility and flexibility to attack other birds in flight. Despite their speed when being chased or disturbed, Spriggan can remain completely still, perched among lichen, moss, and plants in very impressive camouflage when hiding. Being so quick and jumpy when pursued, they are inherently wild and impossible to tame completely, though could be domesticated. This situation is often unfavorable, however, as the bird has such a short lifespan. Spriggans are most active during summer while becoming more dormant in winter, often returning and sheltering in their nests. Regalian Spriggans who build nests in houses can, therefore, face being displaced in winter, as they are usually driven out - or even killed - due to their constant chirping, or cannot find any food and die anyhow.
Territory and Groupings
Being rather passive and non-aggressive birds, Regalian Spriggans have very fluid and often small territories. While they will protect their nests aggressively as any bird would, they do not actively push other birds out of their territory as the species is more ornamental than dangerous. Competition between other Spriggans is also common, but in most cases, Spriggans co-exist with anything in their proximity - not venturing far from it. Like most birds, their groupings are limited to family units only, though it is not uncommon for younger Spriggans to group up after leaving the nest. As Spriggans have evolved to blend into the specific colors and textures of the Crown Isle’s flora, they do not migrate to other parts of the Archipelago or beyond, as they would be spotted much more easily.
- Many poems and stories that feature fairies are inspired by the Regalian Spriggan, old or new.
- Sometimes the beaks of Spriggans are sold, crushed into a fine powder, by merchants as a remedy for fever. However, this does not affect whatsoever.
- Spriggans were curiously unsighted at all during the entirety of the Dragon Crisis.