Pointer Egret Species in Creus | World Anvil
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Pointer Egret

As Alistair entered the captain's cabin, the bird in the cage next to the window gave him a mournful look. He sat in front of the desk and gave the bird a glance. "Funny how even after all of the Progress that's been made, we're still using animals to figure out where north is."   "We also use animals to clothe ourselves, eat, pull wagons, and hunt game. I see no reason why they should give up this particular specialty." Isolde had a bored expression. "We still need them on cloudy nights."   "I'm not saying we should get rid of them, I'm just saying there has to be some sort of underlying thing they're sensing that lets them know north. Something that isn't magic." The bird was looking away, and Alistair followed its gaze. His own ability to tap into the ambient magical current told him that the bird was indeed looking directly north, against the southern flows. "You've never been curious?"   Isolde tapped on her desk impatiently. "Well, you're the academician, right? You can figure that one out on your own time. In the meantime, let's talk about what your duties will be as ship's mage on this expedition."

Basic Information

Anatomy

As with Hartmann's Egret, Pointer Egrets have the classical 'heron' shape, being white birds with unusually wide wingspans for their comparatively small size. Common to all egrets are their long necks and legs, and relatively long beaks. Pointer Egrets, however, have even longer beaks, a trait they were specifically bred to carry.

Genetics and Reproduction

While wild Hartmann's Egrets hatch their eggs in roughly thirty days, selectively bred Pointer Egrets incubate their significantly-larger eggs over nearly fifty days. Pointer Egrets are difficult to breed in captivity and in many cases must be artificially inseminated by the breeder. Concerns have been made about the long-term viability of the Pointer Egret, as the perception of north is only present in certain lineages, and birth defects are becoming more common.

Ecology and Habitats

The Pointer Egret spends its time isolated from the natural world, being bred in captivity in small aviaries and caged when working. Their cost to breed and purchase means that few dare to allow the Egret the ability to fly off or potentially be stolen, as they are strong flyers even with clipped wings.

Dietary Needs and Habits

Pointer Egrets are finicky eaters, in contrast to their wild cousins, and require a specialized diet formulated by breeder consensus. The requirement of this feedstock is a limiting factor for naval expeditions that rely on the Pointer for navigation; efforts have been made to try to breed Pointers that are more tolerant in their diets, but this has yet to succeed.

Additional Information

Social Structure

After breeding and training, Pointer Egrets are sold to their new owners for life, as they form a strong bond to their caretaker. While this doesn't prevent Egrets from flying off should they be uncaged under open skies, many naval captains have reported their Pointers fetching objects for them when allowed to roam in their cabins, or grooming their heads. Pointers generally can not be sold more than once; Pointers bought secondhand after being bonded to their prior owner peck at themselves and refuse food, wasting away unless reunited with their first owner.    For the purposes of breeding, Pointers are choosy about their mates and often times reject their selected mates out of hand, necessitating breeder intervention. If two Pointers do accept each other, they mate for life, an inconvenient aspect of their behavior when it comes to using a stud Pointer's bloodline lineage.

Uses, Products & Exploitation

It is unknown when Pointer Egrets were identified for their ability and domesticated, but ship captains have been relying on Pointers for centuries as a navigational aid. Though navigation by sun or stars works on clear days, the Pointer Egret is the only method a captain has to ascertain north on cloudy days. The result is that the Pointer is a requirement for navigating the seas outside the sight of land, and they are thus in very high demand by traders and the Principality Navy. Expeditions to the deep frontier in Eastern Saibh will also carry Pointers as well for assistance in land navigation; the Cartographers in particular find Pointers invaluable for mapping the unknown and verifying the accuracy of their routes.   Egrets are bred by a number of old noble families, all of which are now present in the Etoile Capital City and work as a cartel to manage the Pointer Egret population and bloodlines. Each family has its own lore as to how they became Pointer breeders, and it is generally agreed on by researchers from The Academy of Etoile that each family's story is mostly self-satisfied bunk, leaving the true origins lost to history.

Average Intelligence

Pointer Egrets are unusually intelligent birds; while not vocal, many naval captains swear that their Pointers can understand what they're saying and physically respond appropriately.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

While possessing the ordinary sharp eyesight of a predatory bird, the principal utility of a Pointer Egret lies in its uncanny ability to reliably and always determine the direction of north, without regard to any other sense. Pointer Egrets that have been blindfolded and earplugged in covered cages have been observed to be able to determine the north direction even after attempts at manual disorientation, as this ability seems to not be reliant on any of their other ordinary senses.   Speculation regarding this ability involves some sort of unseen sense that allows the Egret to orient itself, that people are blind to. The ability is not linked to magic; Pointer Egrets predate the dawn of magic in 715 and wizards sense no magic flow within the birds. Not all Pointer Egrets are capable of north detection, however, and the nonviable birds are usually put down by the breeder.
Lifespan
35 years
Conservation Status
Pointer Egrets are domesticated and bred. Their wild ancestors, Hartmann's Egret, are fairly common sights along the eastern coastline along the Bui Sea.
Average Weight
12lb
Average Length
4 feet from beak to tail
Geographic Distribution

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