Ghost Eagle

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Ghost Eagle
Information
Natural Habitat: Dense forests in Veth
Classification: Bird
Average Size: 40-50" long, 7' wingspan
Average Weight: 12-20lbs
Coloring: Mix of grey, black, silver and white
Distinguishing Features: White breast, grey or black feathers elsewhere, great talons, black eyes


The Ghost Eagle is one of the largest eagle species (except the giant varieties), and is known for being intelligent, vicious, and strong. So swift are its attacks as it plunges through the forest canopy to snatch prey, most observers only see a grey blur, lending the animal its name.

Description

The Ghost Eagle's back and wings are slate grey, with black flight feathers and tail feathers. Its breast is white, fading to a light grey near the head. Its head is light grey, and crowned with a double crest of medium grey feathers with black tips. Its beak and five inch, dagger-like talons are both black. It has dark eyes, and grey skin on its feet, which can be the size of an adult human's hands.

Females are significantly larger than the males, and can grow to lengths in excess of forty inches, with a wingspan of seven feet. This wingspan is quite short for such a large bird, but the Ghost Eagle typically lives in dense forests. It has remarkable speed and maneuverability, and weaves deftly through tree branches to catch prey by surprise.

Habitat

Ghost Eagles are found in dense forests throughout the continent, and are particularly common in Elvendeep and the Great Woods in Zul Kiras. In Arangoth, they are most common in the north, in the Tagrana Wood and the Black Forest. They build their nests high in the treetops, often in the tallest tree in the entire forest. At once both regal and intimidating, Ghost Eagles are unquestionably the masters of the forest.

Breeding Habits

Breeding pairs mate for life. They find a suitable site, normally the largest and most stable juncture of a tree limb and build early in the season. Large sticks form the nest's skeleton, smaller bits and vine wrap are woven through the structure to give it support. The inside is made soft and comfortable by soft grasses, feathers, and bits of fur and whatever else the pair can find to line it. Ghost eagles do not like abandoning a nest so they reuse it year after year. The size increases over their lifetime from all the repairs performed on it.

A small clutch of two to four eggs are laid early in the season and incubated by the male as the female hunts. They take good care of the young. Any runts tend to be shoved out of the nest by the stronger children and meet a quick death upon striking the forest floor. Once the fledgelings are ready they take their first flight, gliding to a lower limb in the canopy, and practice flying back to the nest. They'll find themselves evicted within a month to fend for themselves and find a mate come next spring.

Other Characteristics

These fearsome raptors will kill and eat practically anything they can catch, which includes prey as large as deer and boar when mated pairs cooperate to feed their hatchlings. Ghost eagles are strong enough to tear a Sresar Vale nineteen-toed sloth from a tree branch in mid flight.

They have no natural predators, and even few monstrous animals will cross them.

Ghost Eagles are greatly prized as hunting birds, though only the wealthiest of individuals can afford such a pet. The difficulty involved in acquiring a Ghost Eagle's egg, hatching it, raising it, and training it make them astronomically expensive. The Kings of Arangoth are known for keeping Ghost Eagles, a tradition dating back to Tagran himself. Legend has it that Tagran's eagle, Gospin, once killed a bear while out hunting, an astounding feat for even such a mighty predator. The coat of arms of the Royal House of Arangoth features these birds, either perched on top of the shield, or bearing it on its back between outstretched wings.