Monday, September 28, 2015

Flora et Fauna: Desert Eagles

This week's discussion of the living creatures of Evandar takes us away from the Seven Kingdoms into the desert known as the Waste by those living East of it and as the Sands of Elian or Ashur's Realm by those who live within it. Within the desert, there lives a special breed of eagles. Physically, they strongly resemble the Harpy Eagle of our world. Unlike the Harpy Eagle, the Desert Eagle resides in a place that is not as lush with life. The Desert Eagle is one of the surviving species of the desertification of the Waste following the cataclysms that came from the magical combat between the deamons and the elves.

Adapting to the conditions of the Waste, the Desert Eagle has pale colored plumage. The dorsal plumage is a sandy color with dark flecks. The ventral plumage is white. The feet of the Desert Eagle are a yellow color with white talons. The head of the Desert Eagle is entirely of the sandy color of the back and upper wings. The beak of this bird is a yellow that is a little lighter than that of the feet. The Desert Eagle has eyes that are an amber color that is close to the same shade of fresh clover honey.

Female Desert Eagles have a slightly smaller wingspan than that of the males. A male has an average wingspan of seven feet wide. Females have an average wingspan of six and a half feet wide. The body of the bird ranges between two and a half feet to three feet long. Females average a weight of nine pounds and the average weight for males is thirteen pounds. There have been Desert Eagles that weigh more and are slightly larger than the average size. Most of the Desert Eagles that are of the larger sizes have been domesticated. The largest Desert Eagle weighs twenty two pounds and is kept by the priests of Ashur in Dacia.

Desert Eagle chicks are a dark grey color with black beaks and talons. They grow lighter with maturity. The nestlings are unusually quiet. They only make noise when the parents are near. Desert Eagles are also unusual in the fact that they have surprisingly well developed senses of smell. If a nest has been disturbed, the parents will cannibalize the young and then move to another nest. Desert Eagles have two broods. Most broods will have two young, though there have been recorded incidents of three to four eggs hatched in the nest. The parent eagles take turns caring for the young. Desert Eagles mate for life. There are tales of eagles avenging their deceased mates, but these are predominantly folk lore. The instances where this have happened occurred when one mate is attacked while in the presence of the other.

The call of an adult Desert Eagle when hunting is a shrill scream. Some have said that the scream of a Desert Eagle sounds like the scream of a man. Their calls when not hunting ranges from something akin to a raven's 'quork' to a wispy, wailing cry. Desert Eagles are quiet most of the time, only giving the hunting scream when they sight prey. When they are brooding and raising nestlings, the eagles give quieter calls, the loudest of which is a wailing cry that is a warning of danger to their mates. Nestlings give similar cries to those of adult Desert Eagles, though they can not accomplish the volume of the adult. Nestlings mature over the course of four months. Adults are driven away by their parents from the nest. There are occasions where parents have killed their adult young in the process of driving them away.

The primary places where Desert Eagles hunt are at the river valleys that wind through the desert and about oases. Their range, however, takes them into the desert where they hunt prey and scavenge the fallen. Desert Eagles are not strictly predators but also serve as the areal scavengers of the desert, a role filled in our world by vultures and buzzards.

Domesticated Desert Eagles are trained for hunting. They are also trained as weapons of war. Desert Eagles are trained to land upon the enemy and tear flesh out of them before flying off. The targets they are trained for most often are the necks and faces of the opponent. There have been occasions of a trained Desert Eagle turning on its master. These incidents are viewed as Ashur's will turning against the master. Such eagles are permitted to fly off into the wild. Occasionally, they will linger near where said master had trained them. These Desert Eagles can be captured and retrained, though it is with some difficulty.

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