One Vermin Hawk is a problem for your trash cans. A few are a problem for your dog. A wake of Vermin Hawks is a problem for you
Vermin Hawks are a species of long-legged scavenger birds native to the Rylan Woods and areas around Frial. In their natural setting these creatures are known for their tall, awkward strut as they slowly dance and sing around the corpses they're feeding on. However; they're quick adapt to city life whenever possible. They lurk in parks, rooftops, abandoned buildings, and the borders of cities and only by night do they emerge. Rather than rotting corpses they instead prey upon the refuse of restaurants, butcher shops, renderers, and farms. The birds are not above killing when a weak enough target presents itself though. They are completely lacking in any kind of hunting or pack tactic mentalities and instead will drop from on high or strut-sprint till they can reach their meal and viciously rend them to pieces with sharp beaks.
In Frial the Vermin Hawk populations are tended to by the professional exterminators employed by the city guard - the Vermin Slayers. Vermin Slayers are more than just simple rat catchers but instead former mercenaries, ex-soldiers, or experienced adventurers. They are tasked with dealing with many dangerous pests that assail the city and Vermin Hawks are one of the least deadly of their duties.
The logging city of Rylan uses Austringers and Hound Masters to chase down these birds and destroy their nests. While the community is not concerned with the minor disturbances to their trash it's the droppings of the Vermin Hawk that threaten them. Their droppings are host to a number of parasites, one of which is known to favor the exposed wood beneath the bark of Rylan trees. The tons of planks and raw timber that fill the community are at constant risk of infestation from the dangers hiding in the dung. In addition to those that hunt the birds there are many employed to simply scrub and disinfect wood piles that have been the target of Vermin Hawk excretions.
Genetics and Reproduction
Vermin Hawks reproduce via sexual intercourse that results in clutches of eggs numbering between four and nine on average.
Growth Rate & Stages
Vermin Hawks are rather prolific reproducers. They mate usually twice a year on average though if food sources are plentiful that number can double. The eggs will hatch after roughly two months of time buried under a pile of garbage which their mother will sit atop. The ugly black chicks will spend their first few weeks feasting on the garbage pile that was their nest and the occasional scraps that fall from the mother. After six to eight weeks of devouring this rotting pile they will begin venturing out on their own. They are considered to be full adults after roughly six months; in which time they themselves become fertile and able to birth a clutch of their own.
Ecology and Habitats
Dietary Needs and Habits
Vermin Hawks are able to subsist on just about any food source, preferring rotted meat above all. Decaying vegetation is a close second. The only consumable noted for being ignored by them are things seasoned with spicy flavorings. Their palette seems particularly sensitive to the capsaicin, particularly because of the way their mouths work. These birds create a great deal of mucus which is the mechanism by which they purge harmful bacteria and toxins from their system. The capsaicin aggravates their mucus membranes and mucal production. In addition to the obvious burning sensation they'll experience Vermin Hawk mucus production will shut down for hours, sometimes as much as a day or more if the exposure was particularly high. During this time they are especially vulnerable to the illnesses that lie hidden inside their favored meals. This has consequences beyond just their own health. Their chicks do not produce their own mucus and instead are "fed" mucus from their parent regularly until they begin producing their own. Young chicks will fall ill and die from the filth in their food very quickly without mucus from their mothers.
Uses, Products & Exploitation
There is very little use for a Vermin Hawk. Their meat is gamey and gritty, often filled with benign tumors. Their feather roots run deep as well an meat near a quill duct tastes very sour. Becklinberg is known to make disinfectants from Vermin Hawk mucus but this product is no more effective than traditionally made ones in other cities. A number of their pickling recipes do call for the mucus as well. While effective, it is again more a matter of necessity than potency.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
Vermin Hawks have very acute olfactory glands that are tuned toward searching out sources of decay.
Symbiotic and Parasitic organisms
The flesh, droppings, and urine of the Vermin Hawk are filled with parasites and bacteria that can cause a number of adverse conditions in species that are exposed to them
Civilization and Culture
A group of Vermin Hawks are called a Wake
Struting, dancing, and loud shrieking are all part of the lurid courtship behaviors of Vermin Hawks
Vermin Hawks will mate for life. If one of the mated pair dies they will quickly look to attract a new mate