The Verhon is a social, fowl bird, living with up to sixty others all congregating in the same vicinity. Spending little time in play, these birds are in an all out quest to survive in the harsh glacial ecosystem. A rare bird but not prized by any means. It lives on a delicate thread between extinction and life as is most of its ecosystem.
Appearance. The bird is approximately half a ped in height and another ped and a half from wing to wing. It is almost completely white with only one black strip from eye to eye. It weighs surprisingly little with its hollow bones, meant for easier flight abilities. It has a hard elongated beak, over a fore in length, for finding certain meals. Its eyes are generally black and stick out more than usual as if to search for potential predators. There is no noticeable difference between the males and females.
Special Abilities. This Verhon's beak enables it to dig into the ground and ice for worms or bugs of that sort with no damage to itself. It also can glide effortlessly for days on end with no sustenance of any sort. This is due to its ability to lock its wings and glide, using little energy at all, and also there is a small sack inside its throat, creating a small bump in the front of the neck, which stores excess food.
Territory. The Verhon lives in the far north of Caelereth amongst the glaciers of Cyhalloi. This is the only place hunters, passing fishermen, researchers, or anyone else has seen them. It is doubtful they'd live anywhere else as it would be likely that an explorer would notice a flock of seventy birds or so.
Habitat/Behaviour. The Verhon lives in humungous flocks, which are usually of fluctuating numbers. The reason for this is that the bird is the prey of many of the other inhabitants of these ice covered places. They gather in numbers to avoid death as one will alert others and many more will escape then if there were small groups. The birds live in crude nests they build in high branches, ledges, cliffs, etc. Generally no bird's nest is more than two peds from another creating an effective alarm if danger approaches. When threatened the bird makes a piercing, high pitched screech which travels for almost a stral.
As an individual, however, the bird is incredibly stupid, living on the most basic of instincts, but in a large group these birds create complex roles. When some are eating others will watch for predators, or some will raise youth. A Verhon's life style is that from hatchling to about one month it is taken care of by the flock. After that it is taught how to live on its own for the rest of its adolescense. It becomes a full grown bird within four months. After this it is mature enough to mate and will act as a normal bird until it dies, at an average of twelve years.
Diet. The Verhon's diet consists of two main things. First it can use its beak to dig through the ice and dirt to find any insects. Second it will skim about a fore above the water near the glaciers, occasionally thrusting its beak in and grabbing a fish.
Mating. Once the bird is mature it is fully equipped to mate. The male will move from female to female to see if anyone is willing to accept him. Once one consents they mate and the eggs are laid. Usually there are three although the number has been seen to rise up to seven on certain occasions. Any member of the flock can sit on any egg to keep it warm for the six weeks it has before it emerges. When it does the entire flock takes care of it. As a community one chick is not singly any mothers or fathers but every member in the group takes a certain responsibility over it, and aids in its development. These birds will mate once in every forty-two days exactly. Nobody knows why it is so specific but it is a well agreed upon fact that these birds wait, exactly, forty-two days.
Researchers. One human with an almost unnatural attraction to these birds was the famous Sirod Blacktooth. Sirod spent five years in the freezing cold, living like the animals he was studying. He is almost the sole source of information on the Verhon. Long after he came back, Blacktooth went on a final trip to the glaciers. There is where he lies now, perfectly preserved under the ice.
Information provided by Belgarion