The Copperdeath is a famous ground bird around the southern continent of Aeruillin for its uniqueness among all birds. The Sor'inyt tribe most often refer to it as the "Running Bird". It is widely known for its ability to eat the swift copper snake, the deadliest sand serpent on Aeruillin, and its preferences for speeding across the deserts.
Appearance. The Copperdeath is a large, black and white mottled ground bird with a unique head crest. It has strong feet that rest under long stout legs. Two forward toes and two behind can characterize its feet. The bird comes in a blend of dull colors, ranging from brown and black with a few white spots to the very common just black and white. It has a long, white-tipped tail that is graduated and is carried pointing upwards. Its bill is oversized and is a dull light brown. It has external nostrils from which excess salt is eliminated; unlike other birds who eliminate the excess salt through urine.
The Copperdeath ranges in length from 2.5 palmspans to a fore from the tip of its tail to the end of its beak. When these birds sense danger or are traveling downhill, they fly by revealing short, rounded wings with a white crescent. It cannot keep its large body in the air for more than a few seconds. And so it prefers walking or running (up to seventeen peds per bell).
Special Abilities. In order to store as much water as possible, it reabsorbs water from its droppings before actually dropping them. During the heat of mid-day, the ground bird will reduce its activity by half, both externally and internally. The Running Bird is perhaps the fastest land animal in southern Aeruillin. It can run at speeds up to seventeen peds per bell, and some have been noted to run at twenty.
Territory. The Running Bird can be found throughout most of Aeruillin, save for the Void. It has a higher population in the south, but more specifically the southeast than it does at other parts of the continent. A smaller population has also been found in southern Santharia in the Aj‘nuvic Grounds during the summer, and then migrating in small packs to the Flood Plains when winter arrives.
Habitat/Behaviour. This bird can be found in open, flat, or rolling terrain with the scattered cover of dry brush or other desert shrubs. Running Birds can never be found in groups unless they are mating or if they happen to come across the same meal. They prefer to be alone and do not make the best companions. The only time the Copperdeath can be seen unmoving is if it is very hot in the desert, if it is silently watching its prey, or if it is resting.
The Copperdeath can live for up to six years, and by the time it reaches old age it does the opposite of what most would expect. Instead of the bird slowing down its movements, it seems to speed them up for some highly unknown reason.
Diet. The Running Bird feeds only on other small animals, including insects, lizards, and copper snakes. During the colder months they may eat a low amount of plant material due to the scarcity of animals at that time. Since the Copperdeath is so quick, it is one of the few animals that can prey upon the copper snake. It uses its wings like a cape and snaps up the copper by its tail. It cracks the snake like a whip and repeatedly slams its head against the ground until it is dead. The Running Bird will then swallow its prey whole, but is often unable to swallow the entire length at one time. It will continue to run about with the snake hanging from its mouth, consuming another palmspan or two as the snake slowly digests.
Mating. When spring arrives, the male bird, in addition to acquiring food for himself, offers choice morsels to a female as an inducement to mating. He usually dances around while she begs for the food, then he gives it to her only after mating. Both parents collect small sticks used for building a shallow, saucer-like nest, but the female actually constructs it in a bush, cactus, or abandoned hole. She will then lay two to twelve white eggs over a period of three days, which results in separate hatchings. Incubation is from eighteen to twentydays and is done by either parent, though the male prefers to do it because the nocturnally incubating males keep a normal body temperature.
The first to hatch often crowd out of late-arriving runts, which are sometimes eaten by the parents. Usually only three or four are finally fledged from the nest after about eighteen days. These remain near the adults for up to two more weeks before dispersing to the surrounding desert.
Usages. The Copperdeath has many uses for the tribes in Aeruillin. Its feathers can be used as decorations for clothing and weapons, plus other ornaments around the home. It can be killed and its meat used for food. Its eggs can be taken and used to make a number of products, plus it is said that if you clean your teeth with the tail feather of an Copperdeath you will have sparkling teeth. The Tiraelhon often use the feathers to decorate their throwing axes, and they use the meat to make a wide variety of meals.
Researchers. The most notable researcher is the Aeolrhan adventurer and artist, by the name of Favelcavar Maiitarnae. He has been studying these birds for over twenty-three years and we commend him for his research on the ground birds.
Information provided by Lady Tiaa