|Environment||Redection Archipelago: Island forests, but highly adaptive to seemingly any environment|
|Reproduction||Sexual; lay eggs|
|Prey||Opportunistic: Fruits, seeds, roots, small reptiles and mammals|
|Predators||Loranches (Diakatan only)|
Whifflebirds are large ratites (flightless birds without a keel on their sternum bone). They are related to other ratites, including ostriches, emus, rheas, cassowaries, and kiwis.
Whifflebirds are large, flightless birds with coarse, dirty and unkempt feathers. Their plumage is a drab gray with the tips of their flight feathers and tail feathers black. Both their legs and beak are a simple yellow hue.
Their body is rounded and somewhat ovalloid, with long, lanky legs stretching out directly beneath the body. Their neck is long and thick, sticking out at odd angles and usually kept in a straightened position like a rod, although it is flexible. The head is small with a comparatively tiny brain case, yet their beaks are quite large and blunt. It is also adorned with several tall, almost hair-like protofeathers that rarely sit in the same direction, adding to their unkempt look. The wings are large but useless for anything other than signaling to others and to act as sails while running to more easily change their direction.
A typical adult Whifflebird will stand at a full 7.5ft tall at the head, with roughly 2 to 2.5ft of that being neck. They can weigh around 180-215lbs. Like rheas, Whifflebirds have three toes, while the leg has several horizontal plates to protect themselves during defensive kicks. They can run at an impressive 45 mph, though do prefer slower speeds that allow them a nearly never-ending level of activity; running at full gait will quickly tire them out.
Distribution and habitatEdit
Whifflebirds are indigenous to the planet Earth, located on a number of tropical, forested islands that make up the Redaction Archipelago, located somewhere between Tonga, Fiji, and Vanuatu in Polynesia, though the exact location is consistently removed from maps and flight charts by the nefarious actions of Dr. BadGuy. They can be found on 16 of the archipelago's 32 islands.
These ratites prefer the humid rainforests covering the volcanic mountains that form their island chain home, where they live a solitary life. However, during the breeding season they come down to the grasslands to socialize and prepare their nests, clustering into temporary colonies. They will sometimes be found on the beaches, foraging for food that has washed ashore. Interestingly, despite their very low intelligence, they are surprisingly adaptive creatures, and have been noted to quickly figure out how to live in any biome. During experimentation, they have been noted to have survived relatively fine in swamplands, rocky terrain, arid deserts, and even tundra fields; it is stated that this is because they are too stupid to know that they don't belong in these areas, but this is simply conjecture with little scientific evidence to support it.
A small collection of Whifflebirds escaped to the planet Diakatan during the Monster Space event, and have established a stable breeding population within the Sovereign Isles.
Behavior and ecologyEdit
Individual and flockingEdit
While naturally solitary birds, they group together in breeding colonies for a few months every year. Although rare, mated pairs or siblings may "team up" and live in pairs.
Whifflebirds are rarely quiet creatures, squawking almost constantly from the moment they hatch out of their egg to the day they finally die. They will even make muffled calls while eating, with some evidence of choking becoming a hazard because of this behavior. Their calls are loud and booming, comparative to the decibel level of a car alarm.
During breeding season males will warble instead of squawk, alternating pitch and tone while flapping their wings and "shaking their tush" to attract a mate.
Outside of the breeding season, the Whifflebirds generally split up, although pairings are not unheard of. When endangered, they will flap their wings and tail feathers, kicking one leg and then the other, interspersed with either running around frantically or making a poor attempt to hide in the brush. Hiding is ineffective as they continue their loud, panicked calls and often stick their head out to see if the coast is clear, giving away their position.
Whifflebirds are opportunistic creatures, and have no issue feeding on either fruits or small lizards and mammals scampering through the undergrowth. They do not seem interested in insects or arthropods except for sheer curiosity, and they will not go for eggs of any sort. After storms have ravaged the islands, Whifflebirds can be seen along the coastline, picking out fish that have washed ashore. They will attempt to feed on jellyfish but this results in getting stung every time. At least one individual was recorded to have choked to death upon trying to swallow a piece of bright coral.
In terms of vegetarian lifestyle, Whifflebirds will eat the brightly-colored fruit covering the islands, and are also known to pick at seeds and exposed roots.
They are able to survive roughly three weeks without eating after a big meal if they are not too active, although normally must feed daily as they usually only "snack" and are more likely to spend their time being overdramatic and annoyingly boisterous. They don't usually need to consume water as they get plenty from the fruit they eat, but they will drink when they come across a water source. They are not bright enough to avoid drinking from the sea.
Breeding season lasts through the summer months, between May and July. Inexplicably they will flee into the forests when the rainy seasons hit - rain seems to startle them. There does not seem to be a set choice for Whifflebirds in terms of mate preference, and while many pair off, there are others that instead are polygamous - usually juveniles or young adults - which may attempt and sometimes succeed in claiming several mates to form a harem. Males do most of the competing for mates but females are known to fight amongst themselves for a particularly virile male.
Nests are temporary divots in the ground, and all mated individuals will take turns making sure the nest comfortably fits them. Once suitable to all involved, mating can occur. Monogamous pairs may mate several times a day but polygamous pairings will rotate between their harems. Females may bicker to reestablish the pecking order for which ones are mated with in what order, and the males will continue forward with this new set, indicating some degree of memorization capacity. Eggs will be incubated on a rotation schedule, allowing all adults to forage for their own food. If eggs are somehow relocated from the nest via accident or predators that fail to make off with their bounty, the birds are usually too stupid to figure out how to get it back into the nest and eventually tend to abandon it. However, should a Whifflebird lose all of its eggs it will usually seek out these abandoned eggs and attempt to incubate and raise the chick(s) as its own.
Chicks will hatch from their eggs within a month and a half of laying, but it will take them a full 17 months to reach full adult size. Luckily they can feed themselves within a few days and live on their own by the end of their breeding season. Any late-season hatchlings may stay with a parent until they reach 6 months of age. While the parent does not actively kick the young offspring out, the two seem to absentmindedly forget about each other and go their separate ways after that amount of time. It will take an individual 3 years to reach sexual maturity.
- Artwork by Somarinoa, circa 6th Grade
- Monster Space
- Dangerous Wilds
- Long Story