The Griffin is known by several names including:
- Gryphon Eagle
- Crested Forest Eagle
The Griffin is one of the two largest flighted predatory birds on Gaia. In size and mass, it is only matched by another crested eagle, the Harpy. Griffins, also known as the Crested Forest Eagle, are endemic to the forests of Aereth, Xia, and possibly other islands and continents as well.
Coloring and Plumage
The Griffin’s nape is adorned with long, brown feathers that form a shaggy crest. These feathers give it the appearance of possessing a lion’s mane, which in turn resembles the mythical griffin. The eagle has a dark face and a creamy-brown nape and crown. The back of the Griffin eagle is dark brown, while the underside and underwings are white. The heavy legs are yellow, with large, powerful dark talons and the prominent large, high-arched, deep beak is a bluish-gray. The eagle’s eyes are blue-gray. Juveniles are similar to adults except their upper part feathers have pale fringes.
The Griffin eagle is typically reported as measuring 2 ft 10 in. – 3 ft 4 in. in total length, but a survey of several specimens found the average was 3 ft 1 in. for males and 3 ft 5 in. for females. Based on the latter measurements, this makes it the longest extant species of eagle known on Gaia. For adult Griffin eagles, the weight ranges from 10 to 18 lbs. Griffins have an average wingspan of 6 ft. to 7 ft. 5 in. and a wing chord length 22.6 – 24.2 in. The tarsus of the Griffin eagle ties as the longest of any eagle from 4.8 to 5.7 inches long, Its beak averages 2.84 inches in length from the gape. The tail is fairly long at 16.5–20 inches in length.
The most frequently heard noises made by the Griffin eagle are loud, high-pitched whistles ending with inflections in pitch. Additionally, juveniles have been known to beg for food by a series of high-pitched calls.
Distribution and Habitat
The Griffin eagle is endemic to the continent of Aereth and can be found on some of the major islands also. There are reports of Griffins or Griffin-type eagles on the continent of Xia. The largest number of eagles reside in the temperate rainforests. This eagle is found in dipterocarp and mid-montane forests, particularly in steep areas. Its elevation ranges from the lowlands to mountains of over 5,900 feet.
Evolution on Aereth and the nearby islands, without other predators, made the Griffins one of the dominant hunters in the great forests. Each breeding pair requires a large home range to successfully raise a chick. Thus the species is extremely vulnerable to deforestation.
The species’ flight is fast and agile, resembling the smaller hawks more than similar large birds of prey.
Juveniles in play behavior have been observed gripping knotholes in trees with their talons and, using their tails and wings for balance, inserting their heads into tree cavities. Additionally, they have been known to attack inanimate objects for practice, as well as attempting to hang upside down to work on their balance. As the parents are not nearby when this occurs, they apparently do not play a role in teaching the juvenile to hunt. Life expectancy for a Griffin is estimated to be from 30 to 60 years.
Like most predators, the Griffin eagle is an opportunist that takes prey based on its local level of abundance and ease. Except for some species of megafauna and large cats, it is the apex predator in its range.
Prey specimens found at the eagle’s nest have ranged in size from a small bat weighing 0.35 ounces to miniature deer weighing 31 pounds. The primary prey varies from region to region, depending on species availability. In general, the primary prey for the Griffins ranges from small primates (monkeys) to the giant cloud rats which can weigh up to 5.5 pounds. Griffins have been known to hunt almost every species known on Aereth and Xia, including young pigs, small dogs, large reptiles and even other birds of prey.
Griffin eagles primarily use two hunting techniques. One is still-hunting, in which it watches for prey activity while sitting almost motionless on a branch near the canopy. The other is perch-hunting, which entails periodically gliding from one perch to another. While perch-hunting, they often work their way gradually down from the upper branches of the high canopy to the lower branches and, if not successful in finding prey in their initial foray, will fly or circle back up to the top of the trees to work them again. Eagle pairs sometimes hunt troops of monkeys cooperatively, with one bird perching nearby to distract the primates, allowing the other to swoop in from behind, hopefully unnoticed, for the kill.
To date, there is no reliable confirmation of Griffins being a danger to humans. They have been noted attacking when they or their nest is threatened but only to drive off the invaders. There have been unsubstantiated stories of Griffins carrying off very small children, but since they tend to avoid the habitats of Menfolk, this is highly debatable.