Rare Emberlark

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NIAH

Secretly Elz
Retired Staff
#1


| - E M B E R L A R K - |
"A nocturnal songbird, similar in size and appearance to a peacock. It resides in woodlands, feeding on insects. Its long, majestic tail feathers have a unique and peculiar trait of glowing by their will."
Note: For use by event staff only.

Physiology

Body - The emberlark is a moderately large nocturnal bird, close in size to a female turkey or a peacock. It's neck is long and thin, which often times allows it to bob and weave its head expressively as it moves. Their anisodactyl feet enable them to perch on low branches and fallen trees, although they are most often found on the ground floor. Because of their larger size and relatively small wing span, they are inhibited from flying high off the ground or long distances. If an emberlark flies, it is likely to find a nearby tree to roost or to escape predators. The bird possesses a long, thin beak used for snatching insects from the air and two large eyes that are suited to lowlight conditions.

Glowing Effects - What makes the emberlark unique and immensely suited to nocturnal hours is the fact that they display a form of sustainable natural light, akin to glowworms or fireflies, when they're hunting for insects or attracting mates. The emberlark is able to trigger a reaction in its skin, to create a soft, yellow glow akin to a large candle. In situations of stress or fear, this light turns into a dull red that can signal danger to other emberlarks nearby. Due to the nature of its feathers and hollow quills, the light refracts through the shaft of the feathers and reflects off the iridescent sheen of the vane. The emberlark is able to flip its long tail feathers up, nearly over its head, so that the light can attract insects for the bird to pluck out of the air in front of it. If the feathers are pulled or fall from the bird while they're glowing, the residual effect can last for up to two weeks before the soft glow finally fades.

Warmth - What makes it additionally interesting, and beneficial for the bird, is the warmth that this effect gives off. In part, it is the warmth and soft light that gives the emberlark its name. The warmth created allows the birds to thrive in the cooler night air, and even in slightly colder forests. Like the glowing effect, the warmth of the feather will persist even after it's been plucked, and stays a few weeks more even after the light has faded.

Plumage - Their feathers alone are regarded as some of the most beautiful, regardless of the glow. The male emberlark's body, neck, and head is made of iridescent red, orange and gold feathers. The tail feathers, which take 7 years to grow in fully, showcase gorgeous patterns with flecks of white in various parts. This is key for the male attracting mates and showing dominance, as the females are more akin to a brownish red with hints of orange. Both sexes have tail feathers around the same length, however, so as to facilitate better hunting. There are three feathers around 4-6 inches longer than the others, and of a more delicate flexibility, that allow them to dangle forward as lures when their tails are lifted up and glowing. When the tails are not raised, the feathers tend to drag along the ground a foot and a half behind them.

Lifespan - The emberlark has a life expectancy of 20 years.
Diet
The emberlark is an omnivore. It uses its glowing feathers as a beacon to flying insects in the darkness, and with its long, thin beak, the bird can snatch moths out of the air in front of it. They are also fine using the thin beak to nose through the underbrush for things that may be living under the leaves. Seeds, certain plants, and fungus also prove adequate nutrition for the emberlark, if they are having little luck with tricksy lures.
Behavior
All in all, the emberlark is a somewhat playful species. One or two males tend to gravitate towards groups of females. They will dance, hop, and bob their head in front of the other females when trying to attract a mate, or just socializing. When males from another group wander too close, the females will chase them off en masse before returning to their preferred males. The dancing and bobbing resumes.

However, their playfulness sometimes translates to a bit of a mischievous side, much like a raven. They've been known to quickly light their feathers, extinguish them, and fly up into the tree branches to watch potential predators search around. They'll wait for the predator to leave, and then do it again. As more and more people trek through the woods, the emberlarks gravitate towards shiny things left behind. Buttons, bits of glass, coins, metal. They bring the little trinkets back to their familiar nests to keep, as treasures.

However, when an emberlark becomes threatened, stressed, or scared, they will lift their feathers and glow a dull red, occassionally flickering to yellow as the chemicals emitting light inside the feather waver and change. With some shaking and vibrations, they try to make themselves look as big as they can to ward off predators that may come near. This is often enough to emulate a roaring fire, which leads dimwitted predators to backing off. If such displays are not enough, their last line of defense is trying to find a nearby branch to fly up into. Because their light attracts both predators and insects, it is both an asset and a curse for the bird, if they are not aware of something sneaking up on them.
(Note: To be used by event staff only.)

CREDITS:
- Elz for proposal for event usage
- Elz for art
- Niah for initial writeup
- Lore Council for review, discussion, and editing
 
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