A’quila are large mutated descendants of the indigenous raptors that live in parts of New Jersey and New York. The birds are most well known for being the traditional mounts of the Pulaski Birdmen, but a small number of untamed A’quila live in the Skylands region of New Jersey and in Upstate New York.
A’quila are thought to have descended from some kind of raptor, most likely a species of eagle. They generally have brown or rust-colored feathers, with white streaks in the tail feathers of males being the only major dimorphic trait between sexes. Males and females are both roughly the same size, roughly ten to fifteen feet tall, with wingspans as long as twenty-five feet.
A’quila make their nests in high, isolated places, such as mountain cliff sides or tall, abandoned man-made structures. During mating season, males and females pair off and generally stay partners for three-to-five years, roughly the time that it takes hatchlings mature and leave the nest for good. Males and females are highly territorial, especially when unhatched eggs or young chicks are in their nests. The species has a low birth rate, with females lying only one egg at a time, but because the mortality rate of hatchlings is so low, the species is not threatened.
A’quila are fairly smart, for avian standards, and this has allowed them to be trained. In particular, the Pulaski Birdmen are known for having a handful of these birds in The Aerie, and riding them as steeds, for scouting missions and for raids against other wasteland groups.
The A’quila diet consists primarily of small mammals, such as cats, dogs, mole rats, and even other birds. In the wild, they are not particularly aggressive towards larger animals, but there have been cases in which such creatures were killed and at least partially consumed by A’quila- including humans.
Like other raptors, A’quila have powerful clawed talons and sharp, hooked beaks. They possess excellent eyesight, allowing them to spot their prey from great distances before swooping down at high speeds to attack. A common strategy is to swoop down and grab prey, dropping it from a high distance to kill it. When grounded, they can use their large wings to pound attackers, obstruct their field of vision, or just confuse them.
Owing to their gift of flight and the great speed at which they can fly, most A’quila avoid unnecessary conflict by fleeing. When able, they flap their great wings to confuse attackers, and then create separation by flying away. When being perused by attackers that can also fly, they use their speed and agility to throw pursuers off their tails, often diving and climbing, making sharp turns, and other such strategies.