Akuapa Mekape (ah-koo-AH-pah meh-KAH-peh)
The Akuapa Mekape is a large raven-like bird with a tremendous wingspan. Some specimens have been observed with wingspans exceeding 20 feet and weighing in at 55-65 pounds. At this size, it is estimated that the Akuapa Mekape weighs approximately 55 pounds, and is capable of lifting 60-70 pounds, giving it the ability to easily hunt for prey along the slopes of the Rinzeremel Mountains They are black in color, with a long, hooked beak for tearing into the flesh of their prey. Their wingspan is ideal for sailing on wind currents, and they have extraordinary eyesight, allowing them to soar high above their prey, then dive in, grabbing the prey as they pull up. The birds have sharp powerful talons with which to grip prey and defend themselves.
Genetics and Reproduction
The birds mate in flight, a sight rarely seen. Due to their size, it requires a great deal of altitude to accomplish. They being together, circling high above the desert. The male will work himself closer to the female, trying to court her. If she is willing, she performs a half-barrel roll in the air, with her back to the ground. The male will quickly mount the female and they begin to mate in freefall. The male must complete the mating process before they get too low. If the male fails, the female will break away and will never entertain further advances by the male. If however, he is successful, the two will break away from each other, find air currents to lift them, and fly wingtip to wingtip to find a new place for the two of them to nest.
Growth Rate & Stages
Akuapa Mekape reach full maturity in their third year. Prior to that, the process of laying the eggs and incubating them lasts approximately 165 days. Eggs are laid in clutches of 2-4 eggs. Once hatched, the fledglings remain in the nest for 16-20 weeks, as they begin to test their wings. Early flights will stay within the Gorge, while they learn to use the air currents to rise higher and higher. Eventually they master the ability to circle on the rising air and settle on the lip of the gorge. By this time, they are usually 6-8 feet in length, weighing in around 20 lbs. From this point, they are taught tohunt and dismantle prey by the general flock of birds.
Ecology and Habitats
The Akuapa Mekape are only found near the Puqopen Navu or Forbidden Gorge. The birds nest and mate in the walls of the gorge, in a range from 100 to 200 feet below the top edge of the chasm. Their nests are usually comprised of branches and brush they have gathered from the surface, as well as any softer materials, such as leaves. Since the surfasce is at the edge of the Muioqa Desert, these materials can often be difficult to find. Abandoned nests are often scavenged and re-used by other Akuapa Mekape to save on effort. As desert dwellers and inhabitants of the Gorge, they are adapted to hotter climates. Therefore, despite their ability to soar at great heights, they prefer to remain closer to the ground, as they are poorly suited for colder climes. They are also quite economical in their usage and consumption of water, as there is very little near them to consume. In fact, it is believed that they must have some source deeper in the gorge, perhaps an undocumented pond or underground river, as the distance to water for the birds would be too far for the younger birds to survive.
Dietary Needs and Habits
These birds are carnivores. AS such, they do their hunting on the surface, usually going after small animals such as rabbits, small boars, and even snakes. Theire beacks are powerful and can snap a neck or cut a snake in half with ease. AS a rule, they do not attack anything bigger than themselves, unless it appears that the attack is on a nest. Their protection of eggs and their young is fearsome, and will often results in not just the individual bird attacking but others swarming in as well. Being both hunters and scavengers, they have been known to use flock tactics to atack slightly larger targets, with 4-5 birds cicling above a larger animal and taking turns swooping in to nip and bite at the animal until it has been injured enough to fall. This is when the birds will then land to effect a final kill, tearing their prey apart with their beaks and talons. Very few attakc shave been reported on bipedal individuals, but these birds have been seen working together in pairs to carry off larger, heavier prey.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
The eyesight of the Akuapa Mekap is extraordinary, including in the dark. They can clearly distinguish a 3-inch target from as high as 8,500 ft. in daylight, and about half that distance in the dark. For this reason, they are ultimate predators, able to sight and swoop in on prey before the prey is aware of their presence. They also have an uncanny ability to sense air currents, allowing them to stay aloft for days with minimal effort. This usually happens after a large meal, where the birds seemingly want to stretch and find a lair in which to rest. They will ride currents up to a great height, then leisurely circle down into the Puqopen Navu where they nest. The Akuapa Mekape also have the extraordinary ability to mimic sounds. More than one adventurer has been drawn into the chasm depths by the sounds of a bird mimicking the cry of a fallen adventurer. The birds place no meaning to this sound, it is just something they have learned and becomes part of their vocalization. But the mimicry is so accurate that those on the surface often mistake it for an actual cry for help, which can lead to misfortune.
All Images created BY Kahuna the Elder, with source materials from Pixabay, Pexels, Unsplash, Artbreeder and public domain sources.
Avian in form