The Vévan’már (from Styrásh for “bird of water“), or Gull, sometimes also called "Sky Thief", is a large, ithild-grey and white water bird that is commonly seen near port towns and by harbours in Sarvonia, though it can be found almost anywhere where food is plentiful. It is noted for greed, intelligence, daring, and beauty in flight.
Picture description. The proud Sarvonian gull in mid-flight. Picture drawn by Seeker.
Appearance. There are four varieties of Gull: the Common Gull, the Marayanthian Gulls, the Southern Gull, and the Nybelmar Laren, which is known as the Sky Thief. These are the main varieties known in Caelereth.
The Common Gull
Close up, the adult Gull is a surprisingly attractive bird. It has a white head, breast, and back, with long silvery wings, which have a pearlescent shimmer to them. The body is comparatively short and stocky, though Gulls are large birds. An average adult male is about a fore long, with an amazing wingspan of four fores from tip to tip. Short legs terminate in yellow webbed feet, which allow the Gull to swim. The short, sharp beak is slightly hooked at the tip. There is a bright blood-red spot on the beak, close to the end. Males and females are virtually indistinguishable externally, though males are usually slightly larger. They have what sailors call the “wicked eye”, with a small dark pupil and larger white iris, giving them a mean look.
The Marayanthian Gull (also called the "Little Gull")
Found only in Southern Sarvonia, this bird is smaller than the Common Gull, about two and-a-half palmspans long, with a two-fore wingspan. The colouration is similar to the common Gull, except that the beak and feet are black.
The Southern Gull
This is a variant of the Little Gull, almost identical in size and colouring except that the Southern Gull has black tipped flight and tail feathers. It is found mostly around the southernmost area of the Sarvonian continent, where huge colonies cluster and nest in the cliffs and rocks of the Scattersand Shoals. This Gull has also been seen in Aeruillin, but only occasionally and never in great numbers, so it is not thought to be native to that continent.
The Laren (found in Nybelmar)
This bird is the largest of all the Gulls, nearly the size of an eagle. A fully mature adult is about two fores long, with a wingspan of nearly two peds. It has a white head, breast and back like the Common Gull, but the wings are black, with white-tipped flight feathers.
Baby Gulls of all these varieties are hatched out covered in fuzzy gray down. They are indistinguishable except for size and are just as feisty as their parents. Any person misled by the fluffy, cuddly look of this small birdling will find his finger sliced nearly to the bone by the sharp little beak - assuming he can get past the parents in the first place. Until they are about 4 years old, all young Gulls have grey and white splotched feathers, which gradually changes to the adult colouration.
Special Abilities. Gulls are very bold and very intelligent. Like corbies, they can be trained to mimic certain sounds. They learn very quickly, especially if food is involved. They are extremely strong and can fly for very long distances. The Laren has been sighted along the west coast of Sarvonia - it has flown all the way from Nybelmar.
Territory. Common Gulls are found all over Sarvonia, from Cape Strata in the south to about the Gulf of Oh’cant’aelwyn in the north. The Marayanthian Gull is found around and to the south of the Marayan and the Yanthian Gulfs, in Southern Sarvonia. It has rarely, if ever, been seen north of there. Nybelmar’s Larens are found all over that continent and are occasionally seen along the west cost of Sarvonia.
Habitat/Behaviour. Gulls are flock animals, rarely seen alone. They nest in huge colonies, generally close to a shore line and in rocky areas. There can be hundreds of pairs in one flock. They are noisy birds, making a harsh squawking cry rather like that of a corbie, but higher pitched.
Diet. Anything that is edible, a Gull will eat. They are noted scavengers and the Little Gull is often seen at Klinsor, helping the kaimuni to devour leftover scraps of whale flesh and blubber. They are very clever thieves and will steal food right out a person’s hands if they see the chance. No housewife will leave pies, breads, cakes or cookies to cool on a windowsill in any area where Gulls are around. Gulls have even been seen to follow a hunting hawk or eagle, wait for it to make the kill, then swoop in, ripping chunks of meat from the other bird’s prey. They are so agile and so skillful in the air, they are rarely caught. Gulls are also good at fishing and will sit quietly on the water's surface, waiting for a fish to swim near. A quick dive, a dart of the head, and the fish is caught.
A large egg of a Sarvonian Gull. Picture drawn by Bard Judith.
Mating. A mate is usually chosen around age four or so. Though Gulls do not necessarily mate for life, they tend to prefer a previous partner to a new one and usually stay together. The female takes the initiative and approaches the male, bobbing her head vigorously up and down. If he ignores her, she will approach other males until she finds one who is amenable. The two build a gigantic messy nest of sticks, seaweed, and whatever debris they can find. Once eggs, (between 2-4) are laid, the parents take turns sitting on the nest. Some stubborn birds do not allow their mate to take a turn but remain firmly ensconced atop the eggs, until hunger drives them to seek food within a day or two. In the meantime, the other bird will vent its frustration by bringing more and more nest material. Some birds can end up with a nest two or three times the original size.
Eggs are laid in early spring and hatched by summer. Both parents feed and protect the soft, fluffy grey chicks. By autumn, their patchy plumage has come in, they can fly, and they leave the nest.
Usages. Although it is considered very bad luck to kill a Gull, there are some uses for their discarded feathers and their droppings. The flight and tail feathers make good quills for writing, while the smaller ones accept dye well and may be used by the feather artisans or amanters (artists who make clothing, tapestries and jewelry), in creating their stunning feather costumes and pictures. The droppings of the birds, called fimuso, are sometimes collected as a high quality fertilizer. Fimuso seems to enrich the soil amazingly and has a very mild smell, unlike cow or horse manure, so many nobles prefer it for their flower gardens.
Myth/Lore. Sailors believe these birds bring good fortune. To kill a Gull is the worst of omens and will bring down the wrath of Grothar upon them. Often they will encourage the birds to follow a ship by throwing scraps of food over board.
The Zhunites of Nybelmar have a saying, that something or someone has "...the beauty of a Laren in flight". This is the most extravagant praise or compliment that can be given, and one has only to watch the bird's soaring grace a moment to see why.
Information provided by Alysse the Likely