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Author Topic: New Vulture  (Read 11427 times)
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Jacob Peace
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« on: 24 September 2011, 09:27:08 »

This is something that was approved in the newbie forum.  I was hoping to develop a bird, and found a lot of things bright and beautiful, but not much dull and ugly and almost no scavengers.  I'm trying to fill that niche in Santharia's Bestiary, and am anxious to get feedback.  

Great Stink Bird

Overview – The Great Stink Bird is a large vulture, renowned for its offensive odor, which resembles a battlefield of rotting corpses after a couple of weeks in intense summer heat.  Multiplied by ten. It is large and powerful, with a beak capable of breaking bones, and its primary means of defense is its foul smell and ability to spew its toxic stomach contents.
Appearance - Observers are reluctant to get too close to a Stink Bird, which makes reliable details hard to come by. Females are estimated to be similar in length to an eagle (70-90 nailsbreadths), with a magnificent wingspan of about 2 ped.  Its feather’s are black, with a pronounced ruff around the base of the neck. The head is bare and red, as is its neck, which is about 1 fore, 1 palmspan in length. I"Its appearance is accented by sickly yellow colouring its large, hooked bill, as well as its legs and feet. The latter are equipped with curved, black talons that help it rend carcasses or perch upon an idle branch.   Its eyes are orange, and glow eerily day and night. Males are identical, but smaller, approximately 50-70 nailsreadths in length with a wingspan of about 1 ped, 12 nailsbreadths.
Special Abilities:  The Great Stink Bird can soar for hours at a time without a single wing flap.  Its eyesight is remarkable, able to detect a carcass from over a stral in the air. They perform an important service, because there are few scavengers that can devour a large, rotting carcass as quickly as a flock of Stink Birds. Its most unique characteristic, however, may be its ability to vomit foul smelling digestive fluid at its enemy’s eyes, causing temporary blindness and an irremovable odor which lasts for weeks. If it is killed, this odor spreads over a large area, and is likely to contaminate any creature that tries to touch it.  Few living things will voluntarily get near a Giant Stink Bird, let alone attack it, from closer than the distance of a bowshot.  When dead, the carcass is consumed by other Stink Birds, the only scavenger that will eat it.  Its stench disappears when the carcass is consumed, or completely decomposed.
Territory – The Great Stink Bird is native to South Sarvonia.  An unpopular neighbor and difficult to exterminate or drive away (see special abilities); it has fallen to wizards, with their ability to drive creatures away without killing them, to rid the countryside of them. Stink Birds now remain only in remote areas with few human inhabitants, notably the Tandala Highlands, Shivering Woods, and Narfost Plain.
  
Habitat/Behavior – Stink Birds are adaptable, and inhabit a wide variety of climates and terrain – from the freezing cold Tandala Mountains, to the Narfost Plain.
 
They soar for hours, searching for carrion, and keep a close eye on each other, as well their fellow scavengers.  When one descends to a carcass, they all descend and feast – in many cases until there is no meat left.  They are the dominant scavengers at a kill, and eat first unless there are large mammals vying for a share.

 With each other, the hungriest bird is usually the most aggressive and claims the choice cuts of rotten meat.  Their sharp, powerful beaks enable them to open all parts of the carcass, including the bones, and the Stink Birds’ long necks allow them to reach deep inside to the internal organs.  After feeding, they retire to the nearest source of water to bathe and groom. They are often so full after feeding that flying is a challenge.  Large numbers gather, after mating season, in trees and on cliffs for the night.

 Diet – Stink Birds are meat eaters exclusively.  No one has ever seen them kill live prey, but many farmers suspect that they take livestock since they are often seen feeding on sheep, goats, and cattle.  It seems likely, however, that they merely consume farm animals that have died of other causes.

 Mating Behavior - Stink Birds are highly devoted to their mates, and remain together for life.  Courting males soar over available females at incredible heights, gradually circling lower and closer.  If interested, the female issues a croaking call, which he returns, and then lands by the object of his desire.  The lovers entwine their long, naked necks, and clack their razor sharp bills together, oblivious to the reeking breath and body odor that makes brave men run in terror. Perhaps - to a Stink Bird – it’s sweet perfume.  They then “dance” in front of each other with their enormous wings extended, marching in place with high steps and croaking a Stink Bird love song.  At that point, they’re a couple, and nesting begins.
  
Stink Birds nest in defensible positions that have a good view of the surrounding countryside, such as high cliffs or the upper branches of trees.  Nest building is shared between the pair, with a separate job for each:  Males bring sticks to the nest, and females build it.  . There is no question that the female is in charge. When a male has the audacity to place a stick in her creation, she promptly removes or replaces it.
 
Two eggs are usually laid in the spring, and the male and female take turns incubating them.  Chicks are covered in purple down, and both parents feed them when they hatch.  Young Stink birds often remain with their parents for a year or two – learning the skills they need and helping their parents raise the next clutch of babies.
« Last Edit: 06 October 2011, 09:53:06 by Jacob Peace » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: 24 September 2011, 12:53:06 »

I like this idea. A stinky bird, very unique.   grin
Overall I really like the entry.  Just a few questions from me.

What happens after the bird dies?  Does still stink?  Does anything eat it?  Probably not I guess.

As an artist I pay particular attention to the description.  I notice you described it as a basic common vulture.  Any way you can spice it up a bit, change something so it doesn't look exactly like a common vulture?  Be creative (but no too creative  shocked
What color are its eyes?  Do the babies look any different?  Do male and females look the same?

Overall great job

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Jacob Peace
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« Reply #2 on: 25 September 2011, 00:42:48 »

My first thought was that nothing would eat these things, but maybe other Stink Birds?  How about if it was purple and orange with blue eyes, legs and beaks?
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Shabakuk Zeborius Anfang
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« Reply #3 on: 25 September 2011, 22:02:02 »

Quote
How about if it was purple and orange with blue eyes, legs and beaks?
I don't see why not, Jacob!

Actually, if I'm honest, my first thought was: sounds a bit like the colour scheme for a Muppet Show monster  - but that doesn't need to be a bad thing. Gaudy looks and infernal stench could be a fruitful combination. If you wanted, you could invent a Santharian person, maybe a noble of some sort, who likes expensive and glitzy clothing rather better than regular washing, and is accordingly called "Sir Stink Bird" ... Just an idea.

I would be interested to read a bit more about how the bird smells. "Foul" doesn't say very much. Foul like what? Rotten eggs? Blackhog dung? Five-day old dragon cadavers? Or unlike anything else?
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« Reply #4 on: 26 September 2011, 02:48:10 »

this looks great! I haven't had time to more than skim through, though, as I've not currently got internet at home, and am stealing a freind's. as soon as I'm back online I'll look properly though!
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« Reply #5 on: 26 September 2011, 05:22:28 »

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Gaudy looks and infernal stench could be a fruitful combination. If you wanted, you could invent a Santharian person, maybe a noble of some sort, who likes expensive and glitzy clothing rather better than regular washing, and is accordingly called "Sir Stink Bird" ... Just an idea.

hmmm ... sounds to me like a certain Poet ... and its already been established that this poet likes things with 'Great' in their name ... and maybe he'll find something that stinks more than his poetry ... though that's unlikely.
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Jacob Peace
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« Reply #6 on: 26 September 2011, 05:43:49 »

I'm reconsidering the colors - could be a bit much. Maybe glowing orange eyes instead? I'll work on a more vivid description of the smell. That could be fun.
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« Reply #7 on: 26 September 2011, 09:04:51 »

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I'm reconsidering the colors - could be a bit much.
I agree it may be a bit much.  But I like your thought process.  thumbup  I am looking forward to seeing what you come up with.
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« Reply #8 on: 29 September 2011, 09:13:55 »

Based on the feedback I've received so far, I described its smell more vividly (see overview), gave them glowing orange eyes and made the males identical to - but smaller than - the females (see appearance). I also gave the young purple down (see mating behavior), and said that their corpses are consumed by other Stink Birds (see special abilities). What next?
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Ta`lia of the Seven Jewels
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« Reply #9 on: 29 September 2011, 23:24:15 »

*holds nose tight, suffocates nearly*

Please not in the Rahaz-Dath; I have two other big flying predators in mind (and fully elaborated in my head ;) ) to those we have already like the different drakes/dragons and land bound ones also which live on carcass (the name evades me right now).

Thanks :)
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Jacob Peace
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« Reply #10 on: 29 September 2011, 23:49:28 »

Okay Ta'lia, I'll find them another home.
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Jacob Peace
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« Reply #11 on: 29 September 2011, 23:59:59 »

I didn't come across another scavenger, though.  Are you sure the desert couldn't use another, in addition to the birds you are planning?  These don't take live prey, and so wouldn't conflict with any predators you have in mind.  I wanted part of their range far to the south, a hot climate to show their adaptability, and it has to be a sparsely populated area.
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Jacob Peace
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« Reply #12 on: 01 October 2011, 05:23:48 »

Oops, I just noticed that changes were supposed to be a different color, so I made mine yellow.
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Ta`lia of the Seven Jewels
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« Reply #13 on: 01 October 2011, 07:21:32 »

Jacob, I give your bird a closer look in the next days. Maybe it works in the Rahaz-Dath, maybe not. If not, we could eventually place it in Northern Aeruillin and say, that it is extinct in the Rahaz-Dath etc..
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« Reply #14 on: 01 October 2011, 11:00:17 »

Jacob, you have a wonderful creature here! You also have a very natural and fluent way of writing, which makes reading the entry easy and enjoyable! You a certainly no novice in writing--it's wonderful to have someone with your skills on board! Just a few things from a grammar perspective:

You have a few misplaced modifiers here and there. Remember that, when you use a modifier, it connects to the nearest subject. For example, take this sentence: "Although large and powerful, with a beak capable of breaking bones, its primary means of defense is its foul smell and ability to spew its toxic stomach contents." The subject of this sentence is "means" or, more specifically, "its primary means of defense." Therefore, this sentence says that its primary means of defense is large and powerful, and that its means of defense has a beak capable of breaking bones. However, I believe you may mean that it is the bird, not the bird's means of defense, that have these qualities.

You mention, "The head is bare and red, as is its neck, which is about 1 fore, 1 palmspan in length." Is it the head or the neck that is 1 fore, 1 palmspan in length? As it reads currently, it is the neck. I just wanted to be sure that this is what you intended! I know that your bird has quite a long neck, but wasn't sure just how long, or how long the neck is in relation to the head. Perhaps you might provide lengths for both?

"Its large hooked bill, legs, and feet are yellow, with curved, black talons." As it reads, the bill, legs, and feet 1) are large, 2) are hooked, 3) have curved, black talons. A bill with curved black talons is certainly a peculiar image!

In terms of consistency--you mention that there is a ruff at the neck, but then say that the neck is bald. Perhaps you mean there's a ruff at the base of the neck? Remember, with the appearance, it's good to be as detailed as you can!

Also, I was wondering, as these seem to fly in flocks, how many might be found in one flock?

Really, these are just small things. They may seem larger for how much I've written, but I'm generally more loquacious than I ought to be. Also, some helpful words this entry: malodorous, odoriferous, noxious. I hope this helps! :)
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