Daebi

Physical Description

Daebis are tall, long-legged avians. Their long and powerful legs allow them go at high speeds without even exerting themselves, or to break into temporary, extremely fast sprints that would leave even a warg or lizog in the dust. In return for having been gifted with speedy, strong legs, the wings of the daebis are rather useless. They are short, have plumage just to keep them warm, and they are very weak. Needless to say, a daebi can't fly. Daebis also have long necks, allowing them to reach the ground with their sharp, big beaks without having to kneel down, or to reach fruits hanging in the trees. The entire body of a daebi is covered in soft, light to dark brown plumage. However, while the primary color is roughly the same for every daebi, they do have varying patterns and highlights, which can even range from white over grey to black. Daebis living in tropical areas might even develop much more colorful plumages, to impress mates. Males for example always have black feathers on the edge of their wings, and red feathers on the back of their head. While the claws and beak of a daebi are sharp, they are not intended to be used for combat. Instead the beak is very effective at cracking food with tough shells, such as crabs, turtles, some types of fruit, and large insects. The pointy claws are sharp so the daebi can keep a good grip on whatever flooring it stands on, so it may sprint without slipping. One should not be mistaken though, a kick from a daebi could end up being lethal thanks to their strength and claws. Adult daebis reach a height between 1.5-1.7 m (4.9-5.6 ft.).

The eyes of a daebi have a round iris and pupil, and are yellow in color. The color stretches across the entire eye, meaning the daebi have no white in their eyes. Since they are purely diurnal, a daebi does not have night vision, and their eyes aren't unusually sharp. Like it is the case with all avians, a daebi can't move the eyes, so they have to turn their entire head if they want to look at something. Due to a lack of an auricle, daebis aren't particularly good at hearing or pin pointing where a sound came from. Their sense of smell is rather good though, capable of finding food and spotting threats from quite a distance away.

A unique body part the daebis have that no other type of avian on Threa has is a pouch for their young. Daebis do not built nests, instead they carry their young in a pouch that sits on their chest. It is the fluffiest part of the tall birds, and thanks to the upright-position the chick won't fall out, even if the parent is rapidly sprinting away from a threat.

Behavior

Daebis are very peaceful creatures. While they aren't afraid of going after dangerous insects, even large ones, to crack them open and eat them, daebis are pretty much scared of anything else. They are an extremely cowardly species, that will quickly perk their heads up at any threatening noise to check their surroundings. Once a threat has been spotted - for example a lone wolf or an angry ironhead - then the daebis loudly shriek to warn the others of the flock, and then proceed to sprint away quickly. If a daebi has chicks, then it will quickly nudge them into the pouch before running off, because the young ones do not run as fast as their parents yet, and could thus be snatched up by quick predators like wargs. Apart from shrieking, daebis are capable of many other sounds, which are mostly used to court or give information to the rest of the flock.

Due to their speed and their intelligence being akin to that of a dog, daebis have become the primary mount in Treztown, the Gren Kingdom, and the Sokan Empire. All three realms tamed and are breeding daebis, mostly to use them for private transportation or to bring messengers around. Given their cowardly nature, they are completely unfit for combat. No kind of training can change that part of their nature. As messenger-carriers they are the perfect pick. Not only are they fast after all, they are also enduring and capable of navigating even forests securely. They'll also easily listen to auditory commands, such as whistling or cooing to it in certain fashions. Daebis are so good at keeping sounds apart in fact, that they won't come for any whistle, but the whistle of their actual owner. Steering a daebi is simply a matter of pulling on reigns, accompanied by applying pressure to the torso with one's thighs.

Social

In the wild, daebis gather in groups akin to flocks, but they are named sprints. If one sees a bunch of daebis grazing together, one would say "Look, there's a sprint of daebis." Within their sprints, daebis are very social creature. Fights over the place in the social hierarchy or mates do not happen. There's no social hierarchy, no daebi leads the sprint. The group is very dynamic tends to just do what the majority does. Even when running away from a predator, a flock will not usually break up; they always try to stick with each other. Given that they both share the same habitat, ironheads and daebis live in harmony and even sometimes in symbiosis. While the ironheads graze, the daebis will walk up to them and either peacefully graze alongside them, using the ironheads to deter predators, or will even begin picking insects out of the hides of the ironheads.

Reproduction and Development

Daebis usually mate for life within their flock. The males try to impress the females with their song, and their plumage. The louder, thus healthier, and better a male sings, and the more impressive his plumage is, the higher the chances of acquiring a partner. Once two willing daebis found each other, they copulate. The mating season of daebis is usually in spring, but females can be impregnated year round, unless they have already been impregnated within the last month. This makes breeding them a relatively quick affair.

Once spring is over, the egg-carrying female will lay a few weeks after summer began. Only a single egg is laid per daebi, and the egg is directly moved into the pouch, so the female always carries it close to her body. This is very advantageous, because it means that the male doesn't have to provide for her. She can go around and find food on her own. It takes roughly another seven weeks for the eggs to hatch. The young animals already have a bit of plumage, and it takes roughly a week for them to start moving and following their parents. Naturally the chicks are no where near as fast as their parents, so in case of an emergency the parents still have to scoop them up into the pouch and run away with them. It takes only a bit over a year for the young birds to be as tall and able as their parents.

Ecology

Habitat

The primary habitat of the daebi is the great plains one can find in the Gren Kingdom, so the western half of Threa's temperate north. It is a very open, grassy place, where the daebis can easily find grasses, fruit-bearing bushes, and insects. While daebis usually prefer open areas like the plains, clearings, or similar, one can also find them within even dense forests. Thanks to being good at handling their footing even in difficult terrain and being agile enough to dodge trees, a daebi has no issue sprinting through a forest, if at a slower pace, but still quicker than any predator that is after it would. Forests offer even more food than plains do, and are thus attractive for entire flocks. Daebis can even be found in the rain forest, if in smaller numbers and flocks. One is not able to find any daebi in the cold or hot regions of Threa, though.

Diet

Daebis only eat plants, including grasses, and insects. They use their beaks, long necks, and claws, to get at anything that could be eaten. Fruits and insects are the preferred diet, but grass is eaten in a pinch. Meat, even that on carcasses, is never touched by the tall avians. As mentioned before, daebis are willing to attack even giant insects though, if it means being able to get at their protein rich insides. Giant centipedes, that tend to pop out of the ground in plains sometimes in search for food, count among the preys of daebi flocks.

Competition and Predators

Any herbivore or insect-eater is competition for the daebi, peaceful competition. The worst predators for the daebis are wargs, wolves, and similar, but only if they go after their young ones or manage to sneak up on them. A healthy adult daebi will never have to worry about being caught by any of those predators, they are simply too slow to catch the quick avians. Kul, mostly Trezkul, but sometimes also hungry Aezkul, gryphons, and wyverns sometimes go after daebis. Thanks to their high speed during flight they are able to snatch the daebis off the ground or simply drop on them and eat them on the spot. It is quite rare that these flying predators try to hunt daebis, because the agile, quick birds still prove difficult to snatch, which can lead to frustration. Slower thinking and moving prey is simply numerous enough that usually there's no need to go after the running birds.