A rather large bird, the Garthook is territorial and aggressive. Their size makes them a perfect meal for family gatherings, and though they are hard to raise and the meat they produce is dry, they are well worth the time; recipes created for the meat of the Garthook is not to be missed.
Appearance. The Garthook is about two fores in size, with a wingspan twice that. The plumage of the Garthook ranges from a murky, drab brown to snow white. Their feathers are soft and the male Garthook has strength in its tail to expand its tail feathers in a display of strength and size. The Garthook has either blue or yellow eyes, and a sharp beak capable of pokes and pinches. Both males and females have combs and waddles, however the male's are much more in abundance. When aggravated (sexually or territorially) the waddle and comb will swell with blood and become a deep red.
The call of a Garthook is unmistakable. Louder and more annoying than the call of a Taenish, it is far less creative or melodic than a Cuuloo. A long garbled crow is normal, and when upset, they will hiss. The Garthook is capable of taking flight, unlike most ground birds. They do not enjoy it, however, for they are quite large and tire easily.
Special Abilities. None worth mentioning.
Territory. Wild Garthook are not uncommon; they roam the small brushfields and plains of Santharia. They live in flocks ranging from 3 to 30, and covering large patches of ground. Captive Garthook can be raised nearly anywhere, as long as adequate food and protection is provided.
The Garthook is territorial to a fault. They will attack nearly anything not of their flock in their space, be it another bird or a predator. Fortunately, they have rather poor eyesight. If one stays about 10 peds from a flock, one may not be seen.
Habitat/Behaviour. The Garthook spends a large amount of time foraging and preening, staying close to the flock. Male and female garthooks gather in the flock according to sex, females outnumbering the males 3:1. They sleep in trees and bushes that will support them. If one is not around, they will resort to digging a shallow hole and sleeping there, other Garthooks doing the same until there is a cluster of birds. The males sleep on the outside of the ring.
If a predator approaches, the female Garthooks will stand their ground, defending the nests and babies. Males will approach the predator, hissing as they fluff up their feathers, all the while attempting to make contact with their beaks. Usually the threat of several male Garthooks will send a predator running. But if the predator is able to take down a Garthook, they will turn tail and run, males included.
Diet. The Garthook eat a variety of insects, seeds, fruits and grasses. Though they have been known to kill other animals, they do not eat meat on a regular basis.
A Garthook egg. Picture by Bard Judith.
Mating. Garthooks mate in the early summer. A male will discern when a female is in heat, and fluff his feathers as he struts before her. If two males approach the same female, the male Garthooks will hiss at one another while fluffing up their feathers while slowly bumping one another. Eventually one male will give up, and the remaining male will mate with the female, then move on to another female.
Eggs are laid by the female shortly after mating, in a ground-nest lined with grasses. The eggs look very much like stones, to avoid predators. Garthooks are too heavy to keep their weight continuously on the eggs, so they will only sit on them for a short while, then rotate them with their beaks. Then they will leave the nest, allowing the warm summer sun to heat the eggs while she forages only a short way from the nest.
The baby Garthooks hatch about 6 weeks later, and are integrated into the flock, all the chicks living with the mother until 3 months of age. Male Garthooks are gentle with the chicks, but if a chick goes too far, a male will not hesitate to kill it. Once they are of age, the male and female Garthook brood seperates, females and males joining the ranks of the mature adults.Garthooks live 6-8 years.
Information provided by Viresse