Snowplumes are large bird-like creatures native to Ucharpli. They are the largest species of the group Nixavis, or avians that are capable of flying at altitudes higher than 37,000 feet.
Snowplumes are gigantic birds of prey with a wingspan of six meters. They appear a jet blue color to repel ultraviolet radiation at such a high altitude. As a result, Snowplumes can distinguish themselves from each other by ultraviolet colorations on their feathers.
To keep their bodies aloft, they releas heat from their bodies upwards to create thermal updrafts. The temperature differences tend to form either snowfall or rainfall whenever they need to reach high altitudes, hence their name.
While Snowplumes can already identify one another by ultraviolet colorations, they still exhibit sexual dimorphism. Male Snowplumes have sleeker tail plumes and manes, while females exhibit fluffier plumes and manes in order to keep their eggs warm.
Snowplumes are not normally aggressive towards Vaikan, but if they are threatened, they will attack using their talons and beaks.
Habitat and range
Snowplumes have been spotted world-wide, but they create their nests on the top of mountains. Thus, they can be seen perching on the tops of areas such as Frostwater Hills and Aggateyan Mountains. Their appearances worldwide have inspired a great deal of mythologies such as great spirits that control the weather.
Snowplumes are opportunistic. They are large enough to prey on Arkleon cubs, but they prefer Terrachnids, which are far more common and easier to catch. To do so, they will swoop down from the sky to snatch it with its large talons. One of its drawbacks is that the snow falling from its wings will tend to give away its position, so the Snowplume compensates by hunting in flocks over a large area, circling over their targets to make the snowfall seem more natural. Being able to hunt in groups has made Snowplumes incredibly intelligent and creative, making them a dangerous encounter.
Snowplumes are an apex predator, so the only animal capable of standing up to a Snowplume is an Aggateyan Yoltox.
Courtships involve displays of flight skills as well as the hunting of large prey such as Eletar. Snowplume eggs are about one centimeter long with a breadth of 60 millimeters.
Snowplumes reach maturity at twelve years of age. They live up to forty years in the wild and seventy in captivity. Snowplumes gather in flocks of about eight to ten. The males will travel long distances to acquire food, while the females will spend time caring for their young and maintaining the nest.
The Snowplume is the national bird of Malin. Its design is encrusted onto the Vaikan currency Ckon: two Snowplumes across from each other and two dragons occupying the other side. In mythology, Snowplumes were hailed as the physical embodiment of the ice spirits said to bring precipitation to the land. Indeed, Snowplumes are responsible for the vast majority of precipitation in arid regions such as Yallvus.