The carnost is a large predatory, flightless bird with a large, powerful beak and sharp teeth. Their legs are long and powerful to enable them to move quickly through the swampy environments in which they live. As well as insulation, their thick skin and sturdy feathers provide a layer of protection during the mating season where both males and females of the species engage in violent scraps to assert dominance and gain mating rights. Their plumage is rather dull, with the exception of a bright red patch on the back of their heads which, in females, starts glowing when they are ready to mate. As mentioned, the mating season of the carnosts is a violent and often deadly affair. Male carnosts use both their powerful beaks and strong legs to do as much damage as possible to their rivals. Only the strongest males are accepted as mating partners and, in addition, females sometimes reject strong males for reasons unknown. Perhaps she can sense underlying illness or other unwanted traits. This means she, too, has to be prepared for a fight. The act of mating in itself is quick and without ceremony. One female often mates with several males to prevent her chicks from getting killed by rivalling males.
Carnost by Sofi Hjalmarsson
Once she is ready to lay her eggs, the female carnost builds a nest out of sticks and the blades of tall grasses readily available in the swamp. The nests are well camouflaged to hide the one or two large, green-speckled eggs she lays. Once she starts incubating the eggs, she very rarely leaves the nest. Although this starves and weakens her, she is far from defenceless. After hatching, the chicks stay hidden in the nest while the female hunts for both herself and her young. This lasts until they have grown enough feathers to form a protective layer against the elements. At this point, they start following their mother around, learning to hunt as well as hide. Adolescent carnosts leave their mother when they are about 6 months old, and they reach sexual maturity at the age of 4. Carnosts are solitary hunters but do not sink below stealing prey that other carnosts have killed. They eat anything from large mammals such as grazing beasts to rodents, small lizards and other birds. As they can outrun most of their prey over short distances, especially in their natural environment, they are considered extremely dangerous, even to an experienced hunter. However, the carnost isn't hunted for its meat as much for its eggs and young chicks. While the adults' skin and feathers can be utilised, there are both safer and more attractive sources of such materials. Their eggs, on the other hand, are considered a delicacy for their extremely large, nutritious yolks and silky, delicate whites. Just after hatching, and for about a month after, Carnost chicks are also sought after as their meat is very tender and carries a unique, sweet flavour. While attempts to tame carnost chicks have been made, none have been successful.
Carnost Egg by Sofi Hjalmarsson