Gloom Owl

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Gloom Owl
Information
Natural Habitat: Elgar Forest
Classification: Bird
Average Size: 30" long, 5' wingspan
Average Weight: 20-30lbs
Coloring: Black
Distinguishing Features: Pitch black plumage


Some individuals believe that Gloom Owls are the servants of dark powers, and that seeing one is a bad omen. These individuals also maintain that Gloom Owls are malicious creatures that use their ability to cause fear to torment people. Others counter that the birds are naturally afraid of humanoids, and that they are simply defending themselves from a perceived threat. Gloom Owls can be trained if captured as chicks, and are often sought after by wizards as pets and familiars.

Description

This predatory bird closely resembles a great horned owl, except that its plumage consists exclusively of varying shades of black. It is most common in the Elgar Forest, where it roosts in the deep shadows of the forest's canopy, but may be found in dense forests elsewhere in the continent. It is an extremely rare sight in areas populated by humanoids. Like most owls, Gloom Owls are nocturnal hunters, though they may be active at any time in the deepest parts of the Elgar Forest, where there is little difference between midnight and noon. Females are significantly larger than males, and can grow to be thirty inches in length, with a wingspan of five feet.

Habitat

Canopies in the Elgar Forest are its habitat of choice. They have been spotted in the lands that surround the forest but prefer the ability to hunt whenever they please.

Breeding Habits

Males begin their displays late in the year between November and December in the attempt to secure a female early. This ensures they'll have a territory claimed and nest built before it's time to begin their family. The forests echo with their deep thrumming calls that carry from one end of Elgar to the other. The males' baritone calls, a series of purring grunts and subsonic rumbles, are punctuated by the females' high pitched screeches that closely mimic the scream of a dying woman.

Once a pair has been formed and their tree taken, nest built, they mate and wait for eggs. They have one or two eggs and treat them with upmost care. The chicks are born within a month of the eggs being laid. Over the coming months they're fed, parasites removed, and grow rapidly. Should there be two in one nest they fight until only one remains.

When that chick reaches adulthood it eagerly leaves the nest to continue its life horrifying travelers that pass through the forest and give the people flanking it nightmares during the winter months.

Other Characteristics

An excellent hunter, a gloom owl's diet consists primarily of small rodents, birds, and fish. Large specimens are capable of killing larger pray such as rabbits and ducks.

The Gloom Owl's most remarkable characteristic is a telepathic ability to strike another creature with an overwhelming, paralyzing fear. It uses this ability primarily to defend itself from the many dangerous monsters that inhabit the Elgar Forest, though it may also use this ability to immobilize prey while hunting.