uH one of the first animal concepts I made for my headworld four years ago were these giant-ass birds I called sun eagles. I felt it would be a good thing to come back to them and rehaul.
When going back and redesigning them, there are a few types of bird species that inspired the designs. They are called eagles, more or less though they are rather chimerical by our standards. They have crests and faces reminiscent of Philippine and harpy eagles, along with the grasping talons. They have the long craning neck and legs of egrets, as well as flaunting egret-like breeding plumage on their breasts during season. Also present during breeding seasons are feather trains below the tail that look similar to that of peacock feathers.
So here's the revised information, or what I got of it so far I guess hhah. They are large avianoid animals, no exact measurements yet but they can support the weight and be ridden by these guys
, who are slightly smaller and lighter than humans. Not that they are ridden, no, sun eagles are a wild animal free of domestication. Sun eagle blood is copper based, and as such is blue in color. Their flesh is also darker and blue in tint with greyish skin and their eyes are bright aqua with highly reflective retinas. Their plumage is a range of golden oranges and yellows with turquoise accents. The primary sexual dimorphism in the species is size, females being larger than the males. These animals live only on high coastal cliffs.
Their feed tends to be sea life, from giant sea turtles to sharks and porpoises and small whales. They very rarely stray too far inland away from the coast but it has been documented that they occasionally hunt large terrestrial animals like tapirs during brooding times. Sun eagles are highly intelligent animals. They do not understand spoken language of sentient animals, though they can however learn species behavior through observing body language, vocal tone, and other social cues and interactions. Despite this they shy away from other animals, and are only social to a certain degree and live in small inter-connected groups that often space themselves apart from one another to prevent food and nesting competition. Pairs mate later in life and for longer periods with singular partners to rear multiple young over many breeding seasons. During season eagles that are not already rearing chicks, either paired or unpaired, will develop breeding plumage on the breast and tail. In males the breast plumage is thicker and the feathers are longer, otherwise both sexes have the same tail train plumage. Courtship is similar to bald eagles, in which pairs will lock talons and plummet into a free-fall before separating safely.
Being larger animals, females will only lay one egg at a time. Two eggs in a clutch can rarely occur. Eagles are also very inclined to parental care of young that is shared by both the mother and father as well as other extended family members in closer knit groups. A young eaglet will stay with its parents for many years and often will not fully leave the territory and join the family group instead. Eagles have high longevity and have an optimum life span of around 275 years, if lucky. Typical lifespan is 200-225 years. Fledglings begin flying and independently feed themselves at 30 years of age. Sexual maturity is reached at around 40-45 years of age, though most young eagles are bad at gathering experience and do not begin reproducing until they are around 70 years of age. Eagle pairs will bear offspring only once every 25 years or so, though breeding seasons occur once every year in late winter. Eggs take 56 days to hatch.
Culturally the sun eagle is one of the most important animals. They are sons and daughters created in the image of the Sun God itself to keep and eye on the sea for him. They are described as having a humble pride, knowing their holy origins though also knowing their earthly place as mortal representations. It is considered high taboo to injure a sun eagle, as incredulous as it may sound due to their impressive size. It is also discouraged to attempt to pluck a feather from one, an action the sentient Tecatl used to do in ancient times to prove their bravery and strength. In current times the only eagle artifacts collected are their breeding feathers when the eagles shed them in spring. Tecatl and Tezcatli alike use the feathers in their spring planting festivals as decorations and gifts to loved ones as a promise for a fruitful beginning to the year. Sun eagles themselves are rarely seen, even by sentients living in the coastal regions, so it is said to be very good luck if you spy a sun eagle, and good luck for your family if you spy a mated pair. The highest chances to spot a sun eagle are at dawn and mid day when the sun is at its highest in the sky.
Some speculate that due to the animals' intelligence, they may very well know that they are a revered animal due to observing from afar the behavior of the much smaller Tecatl scampering around in their small constructed cities. Or at least they know the Tecatl are of no threat due to the food offerings they leave for the eagles at low-residence coastal sun temples at the start of the winter eagle breeding seasons.
There is a smaller-sized sub species of sun eagles called dusk eagles(they are not pictured in these drawings as these are depictions of sun eagles). They have darker coloration and live inland in mountain jungle regions and hunt terrestrial animals exclusively. According to the local sentients' folklore, dusk eagles came about when one of the Sun God's sons fell from grace due to his arrogance and was thrown into the ashes of a dying fire to tarnish his feathers as punishment. It is said that because of their tarnished pride, dusk eagles are supposedly able to be convinced to serve as mounts, though doing so is an incredible challenge because they still try to cling to the ideal that they are better than the animals running on the forest floor.