In Vendriothos, a Varga is an individual's spirit animal of sorts. Magaratis consider their Varga to be extension of their souls or reincarnations of their deceased family members or close friends. Historically, an individual's Varga was determined through "visions" (induced by medicinal herbs provided by a shaman) at his or her 13th birthday. Those who failed to determine their Varga at their 13th birthday were socially ostracized as the Vargaheen (and considered to be like those soulless foreigners). In modern times, the governments of all Magarati countries conduct special exams to determine the Varga of 13-year-olds (to ensure that no one is a Vargaheen and to minimize accidents or deaths related to Varga-capturing rituals).
Listed below in this dispatch are Varga Species 001 to 0??. If you want to learn about other Varga species; proceed to the following links.
The Gaidu (Rhinoceros Chathaica) is a rhinoceros species native to the Western Magarati Federation and San Montagna. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, as populations are fragmented and restricted to just the Chatha region (shared by both countries). As of 2020, a total of 1,000 mature individuals were estimated to live in the wild.
Rhinoceros chathaica was the scientific name used by Lalita Karki in 1775 on her book The List of Vargas.
The rhino's local name is derived from Gaidu the Great, a heavily-armored legendary warrior whom the Chepangs (a Western Kirati tribe who inhabit both Magarati and San Montagnan Chathas) worship as their ancestor god.
Gaidus have a thick grey-brown skin with pinkish skin folds and one horn on their snout. Their upper legs and shoulders are covered in wart-like bumps. They have very little body hair, aside from eyelashes, ear fringes and tail brush. Males have huge neck folds. Their skull is heavy with a basal length above 60 cm (24 in) and an occiput above 19 cm (7.5 in). Their nasal horn is slightly back-curved with a base of about 18.5 cm (7.3 in) by 12 cm (4.7 in) that rapidly narrows until a smooth, even stem part begins about 55 mm (2.2 in) above base. In captive animals, the horn is frequently worn down to a thick knob.
The gaidu's single horn is present in both males and females, but not on newborn calves. The horn is pure keratin, like human fingernails, and starts to show after about six years. In most adults, the horn reaches a length of about 25 cm (9.8 in), but has been recorded up to 36 cm (14 in) in length and weight 3.051 kg (6.73 lb).
Males have a head and body length of 368–380 cm (12.07–12.47 ft) with a shoulder height of 170–186 cm (5.58–6.10 ft), while females have a head and body length of 310–340 cm (10.2–11.2 ft) and a shoulder height of 148–173 cm (4.86–5.68 ft). The male, averaging about 2,200 kg (4,850 lb) is heavier than the female, at an average of about 1,600 kg (3,530 lb).
The rich presence of blood vessels underneath the tissues in folds gives them the pinkish color. The folds in the skin increase the surface area and help in regulating the body temperature. The thick skin does not protect against bloodsucking horseflies, leeches and ticks.
The largest sized specimens reportedly range up to 4,000 kg (8,820 lb).
Distribution and habitat
TBD Western Magarati Federation TBD San Montagna TBD
Ecology and behavior
Adult males are usually solitary. Groups consist of females with calves, or of up to six subadults. Such groups congregate at wallows and grazing areas. They are foremost active in early mornings, late afternoons and at night, but rest during hot days. They bathe regularly. The folds in their skin trap water and hold it even when they exit wallows.
They are excellent swimmers and can run at speeds of up to 55 km/h (34 mph) for short periods. They have excellent senses of hearing and smell, but relatively poor eyesight. Over 10 distinct vocalizations have been recorded. Males have home ranges of around 2 to 8 sq km (0.77 to 3.09 sq mi) that overlap each other. Dominant males tolerate other males passing through their territories except when they are in mating season when dangerous fights break out. Starlings and herons both eat invertebrates from the rhino's skin and around its feet. Horseflies are known to bite rhinos. The rhinos are also vulnerable to diseases spread by parasites such as leeches, ticks and nematodes. Anthrax and the blood-disease sepsis are known to occur.
Gaidus are grazers. Their diet consists almost entirely of grasses but they also eat leaves, branches of shrubs and trees, fruits and submerged and floating aquatic plants. They feed in the mornings and evenings. They use their semi-prehensile lips to grasp grass stems, bend the stem down, bite off the top and then eat the grass. They tackle very tall grasses or saplings by walking over the plant with legs on both sides and using the weight of their bodies to push the end of the plant down to the level of the mouth. Mothers also use this technique to make food edible for their calves. They drink for a minute or two at a time; often imbibing water filled with rhinoceros urine.
Gaidus forms a variety of social groupings. Males are generally solitary, except for mating and fighting. Females are largely solitary when they are without calves. Mothers will stay close to their calves for up to four years after their birth, sometimes allowing an older calf to continue to accompany her once a newborn calf arrives. Subadult males and females form consistent groupings as well. Groups of two or three young males will often form on the edge of the home ranges of dominant males; presumably for protection in numbers. Young females are slightly less social than the males. Gaidus also form short-term groupings; particularly at forest wallows during the monsoon season and in grasslands during March and April. Groups of up to 10 gaidus may gather in wallows - typically a dominant male with females and calves but no subadult males.
Gaidus make a wide variety of vocalizations. At least 10 distinct vocalizations have been identified: snorting, honking, bleating, roaring, squeak-panting, moo-grunting, shrieking, groaning, rumbling and humphing. In addition to noises, the gaidu uses olfactory communication. Adult males urinate backwards, as far as 3–4 m behind them, often in response to being disturbed by observers. Like all rhinos, the gaidu often defecates near other large dung piles. The gaidu has pedal scent glands which are used to mark their presence at these rhino latrines. Males have been observed walking with their heads to the ground as if sniffing; presumably following the scent of females. In aggregations, gaidus are often friendly. They will often greet each other by waving or bobbing their heads, mounting flanks, nuzzling noses or licking. Rhinos will playfully spar, run around and play with twigs in their mouths. Adult males are the primary instigators in fights. Fights between dominant males are the most common cause of rhino mortality and males are also very aggressive toward females during courtship. Males will chase females over long distances and even attack them face-to-face. Unlike other rhinos, the gaidu fights with its incisors, rather than its horns.
Captive males breed at five years of age, but wild males attain dominance much later when they are larger. In one five-year field study, only one rhino estimated to be younger than 15 years mated successfully. Captive females breed as young as four years of age but in the wild, they usually start breeding only when six years old; which likely indicates they need to be large enough to avoid being killed by aggressive males. Their gestation period is around 15.7 months and birth interval ranges from 34-51 months.
In captivity, four rhinos are known to have lived over 40 years; the oldest living to be 47.
TBD hunting by Free Powers such as Segentova TBD
TBD by country
TBD Gaidu the Great legends among Chepang people
TBD by country
The Kare Crocodile (Crocodylus Tabajaraca) is a crocodilian native to freshwater habitats of Raedlon and Argus.
It is a medium-sized crocodile that inhabits lakes, rivers, marshes and artificial ponds. Both young and adult kare crocodiles dig burrows where they retreat when temperature drops below 5 °C (41 °F) or exceeds 38 °C (100 °F). Females dig holes in the sand as nesting sites and lay up to 46 eggs during the dry season. Sex of hatchlings depends on temperature during incubation. It preys on fish, reptiles, birds and mammals. Young feed on insects.
TBD Tabajaran word TBD
Crocodylus tabajaraca was the scientific name proposed by Lok Bahadur Rewali Magar in 1831 who described the type specimen from Dragao do Mar.
Kare crocodile hatchlings are pale olive with black spots. Adults are dark olive to grey or brown. The head is rough without any ridges and large scutes around the neck that is well separated from the back. Scutes usually form four, rarely six longitudinal series and 16 or 17 transverse series. The limbs have keeled scales with serrated fringes on outer edges, and outer toes are extensively webbed. The snout is slightly longer than broad with 19 upper teeth on each side. The symphysis of the lower jaw extends to the level of the fourth or fifth tooth. The premaxillary suture on the palate is nearly straight or curved forwards, and the nasal bones separate the premaxilla above.
The kare crocodile is considered a medium-sized crocodilian. It has a powerful tail and webbed feet. Its visual, hearing and smelling senses are acute. Adult female kare crocodiles are 2 to 2.5 m (6 ft 7 in to 8 ft 2 in) on average, and male muggers 3 to 3.5 m (9 ft 10 in to 11 ft 6 in). They rarely grow up to 5 m (16 ft 5 in). The largest known kare crocodile measured 5.63 m (18 ft 6 in). The largest zoological specimen in the TBDcountry Museum of Natural History measures 3.7 m (12 ft 2 in). One male mugger caught in Dragao do Mar of about 3 m (9 ft 10 in) weighed 195 kg (430 lb).
Distribution and habitat
TBD Raedlon and Argus nations
Behavior and ecology
The kare crocodile is a powerful swimmer that uses its tail and hind feet to move forward, change direction and submerge. It belly-walks, with its belly touching ground, at the bottom of waterbodies and on land. During the hot dry season, it walks over land at night to find suitable wetlands and spends most of the day submerged in water. During the cold season it basks on riverbanks, individuals are tolerant of others during this period. Territorial behavior increases during the mating season.
Like all crocodilians, the mugger crocodile is a thermoconformer and has an optimal body temperature of 30 to 35 °C (86 to 95 °F) and risks dying of freezing or hyperthermia when exposed to temperatures below 5 °C (41 °F) or above 38 °C (100 °F), respectively. It digs burrows to retreat from extreme temperatures and other harsh climatic conditions. Burrows are between 0.6 and 6 m (2.0 and 19.7 ft) deep, with entrances above the water level and a chamber at the end that is big enough to allow the mugger to turn around. Temperatures inside remains constant at 19.2 to 29 °C (66.6 to 84.2 °F), depending on region.
Hunting and diet
The kare crocodile preys on fish, snakes, turtles, birds and mammals including monkeys, squirrels, rodents, otters and dogs. It also scavenges on dead animals. During dry seasons, kare crocodiles walk many kilometers over land in search of water and prey. Hatchlings feed mainly on insects such as beetles, but also on crabs and shrimp and on vertebrates later on. Subadult and adult kare crocodiles favor fish, but also prey on small to medium-sized ungulates up to the size of mirga deer. In TBDMagaratination National Park, a kare crocodile was observed caching a mirga kill beneath the roots of a tree and returning to its basking site. A part of the deer was still wedged among the roots on the next day. They seize and drag potential prey approaching watersides into the water when the opportunity arises. Adult kare crocodiles also feed on turtles and tortoises. Kare crocodiles have also been observed while preying and feeding on a python.
Kare crocodiles have been documented using lures to hunt birds. This means they are among the first reptiles recorded to use tools. By balancing sticks and branches on their heads, they lure birds that are looking for nesting material. This strategy is particularly effective during the nesting season.
Female kare crocodiles obtain sexual maturity at a body length of around 1.8-2.2 m (5.9-7.2 ft) at the age of about 6.5 years and males at around 2.6 m (8 ft 6 in) body length. The reproduction cycle starts earliest in November at the onset of the cold season with courtship and mating. Between February and June, females dig 35-56 cm (1.15–1.84 ft) deep holes for nesting between 1 and 2,000 m (3.3 and 6,561.7 ft) away from the waterside. They lay up to two clutches with 8 to 46 eggs each. Eggs weigh 128 g (4.5 oz) on average. Laying of one clutch usually takes less than half an hour. Thereafter, females scrape sand over the nest to close it. Males have been observed to assist females in digging and protecting nest sites. Hatchling season is two months later. Then females excavate the young, pick them up in their snouts and take them to the water. Both females and males protect the young for up to one year.
Healthy hatchlings develop at a temperature range of 28-33 °C (82-91 °F). Sex ratio of hatched eggs depends on incubation temperature and exposure of nests to sunshine. Only females develop at constant temperatures of 28-31 °C (82-88 °F), and only males at 32.5 °C (90.5 °F). Percentage of females in a clutch decreases at constant temperatures between 32.6 and 33 °C (90.7 and 91.4 °F); and of males between 31 and 32.4 °C (87.8 and 90.3 °F). Temperature in natural nests is not constant but varies between nights and days. Foremost females hatch in natural early nests when initial temperature inside nests ranges between 26.4 and 28.9 °C (79.5 and 84.0 °F). The percentage of male hatchlings increases in late nests located in sunny sites. Hatchlings are 26-31 cm (10-12 in) long and weigh 75 g (2.6 oz) on average when one month old. They grow about 4.25 cm (1.67 in) per month and reach a body length of 90-170 cm (35-67 in) when two years old.
Attacks on humans
The kare crocodile is extremely dangerous to humans. Human victims are dragged into the water and drowned; but are rarely consumed. Fatal attacks of kare crocodiles on humans have mostly been reported from Dragao do Mar and Magarati countries.
Since large kare crocodiles occasionally take livestock, this leads to conflict with local people living close to the former's habitat. In Magarati countries, where the kare crocodile is among the "Big 4" killers, local people are compensated for loss of close relatives and livestock.
The kare crocodile is threatened by habitat destruction because of conversion of natural habitats for agricultural and industrial use. As humans encroach into their habitat the incidents of conflict increase. Kare crocodiles are entangled in fishing equipment and drown; and are killed in areas where fishermen perceive them as competition.
In Western Magarati Federation, two kare crocodiles were found killed, one in 2015 with the tail cut off and internal organs missing; the other in 2017, also with the tail cut off. The missing body parts of the crocodiles were used by a Roendavarian cult either as a ritual or as aphrodisiacs. Between 2005 and 2018, 30 kare crocodiles were victims of traffic accidents on roads and railway tracks in Western Magarati Federation; of which 32 died and five were treated and returned to the wild.
TBD by country
The Doman Crow (Corvus Domanica) is a common bird of the crow family that is of Domananian origin but now found in many parts of the Isles; where they arrived alongside Khas-Kirati raiders, traders and settlers who took a liking to this species as "a common but highly-regarded intelligent Varga". The forehead, crown, throat and upper breast are a richly glossed black whilst the neck and breast are a lighter grey-brown in color. The wings, tail and legs are black. There are regional variations in the thickness of the bill and the depth of color in areas of the plumage.
Distribution and habitat
It has a widespread distribution in all over the Isles; being native to Domanania and Ioudaia. It was introduced to mainland Magarat in the 10th Century after Khas-Kirati conquests of these two nations. From mainland Magarat, it arrived in TBD countries alongside Khas-Kirati raiders, traders and settlers.
It is associated with human settlements throughout its range, from small villages to large cities.
Due to a human population explosion in the areas it inhabits, this species has also proportionately multiplied. Being an omnivorous scavenger has enabled it to thrive in such circumstances.
The invasive potential for the species is extremely high. This species is able to make use of resources with great flexibility and appears to be associated with humans and no populations are known to exist independently of humans. The Doman crow has been added to the List of Invasive Alien Species by TBD countries. The Doman crow is considered to be responsible for the decline of many local flora and fauna such as TBD in TBD countries.
Doman crows feed largely on refuse around human habitations, small reptiles and mammals and other animals such as insects and other small invertebrates, eggs, nestlings, grain and fruits. Doman crows have also been observed swooping down from the air and snatching baby squirrels. Most food is taken from the ground, but also from trees as opportunity arises. They are highly opportunistic birds and given their omnivorous diet; they can survive on nearly anything that is edible. These birds can be seen near marketplaces and garbage dumps; foraging for scraps. They have also been observed to eat sand after feeding on carcasses.
At least some trees in the local environment seem to be necessary for successful breeding although Doman crows occasionally nest on telephone towers. It lays 3-5 eggs in a typical stick nest and occasionally there are several nests in the same tree. Peak breeding in Domanania as well as rest of the Isles is from April to July. Large trees with big crowns are preferred for nesting.
Doman crows roost communally near human habitations and often over busy streets. A study in Tapu Sahar found that the preferred roost sites were in well-lit areas with a lot of human activity, close to food sources and in tall trees with dense crowns that were separated from other trees. The roost sites were often enclosed by tall buildings. Before flying into roost trees, crows make pre-roosting aggregations perched on TV antennas, roof tops, wayside trees, open field, and feed or preen during this time.
The voice is a harsh kaaw-kaaw.
Relationship to humans
It is suspected that paramyxoviruses, such as PMV 1 that causes of Newcastle disease, may be spread by Corvus domanica. Outbreaks of Newcastle disease in Domanania, Ioudaia and TBDIslesCountries were often preceded by mortality in crows. They have also been found to carry yeasts that can cause cryptococcosis in humans.
TBD common Varga among Khas-Kiratis in Magarat TBD
The Mirga (Axis Macula) is a species of deer that is native to Raedlon, Argus and Gael. It was first described by Sinjali naturalist Lalita Karki in 1775. A moderate-sized deer, male mirga reach nearly 90 cm (35 in) and females 70 cm (28 in) at the shoulder. While males weigh 30–75 kg (66–165 lb), the lighter females weigh 25–45 kg (55–99 lb). It is sexually dimorphic; males are larger than females and antlers are present only on males. The upper parts are golden to rufous, completely covered in white spots. The abdomen, rump, throat, insides of legs, ears and tail are all white. The antlers, three-pronged, are nearly 1 m (3.3 ft) long.
The mirga was first described by Sinjali naturalist Lalita Karki in 1775.
The mirga is a moderately sized deer. Males reach nearly 90 cm (35 in) and females 70 cm (28 in) at the shoulder; the head-and-body length is around 1.7 m (5.6 ft). While immature males weigh 30–75 kg (66–165 lb), the lighter females weigh 25–45 kg (55–99 lb). Mature males can weigh up to 98 to 110 kg (216 to 243 lb). The tail, 20 cm (7.9 in) long, is marked by a dark stripe that stretches along its length. The species is sexually dimorphic; males are larger than females, and antlers are present only on males.
The dorsal (upper) parts are golden to rufous, completely covered in white spots. The abdomen, rump, throat, insides of legs, ears, and tail are all white. A conspicuous black stripe runs along the spine (back bone). The mirga has well-developed preorbital glands (near the eyes) which have stiff hairs. It also has well-developed metatarsal glands and pedal glands located in its hind legs. The preorbital glands, larger in males than in females, are frequently opened in response to certain stimuli.
Each of the antlers has three lines on it. The brow tine (the first division in the antler) is roughly perpendicular to the beam (the central stalk of the antler). The antlers, three-pronged, are nearly 1 m (3.3 ft) long. Antlers, as in most other cervids, are shed annually. The antlers emerge as soft tissues (known as velvet antlers) and progressively harden into bony structures (known as hard antlers), following mineralization and blockage of blood vessels in the tissue, from the tip to the base. The mineral content of the mirga's antlers was determined to be (per kg): 6.1 milligrams (0.00022 oz) copper, 8.04 milligrams (0.000284 oz) cobalt and 32.14 milligrams (0.001134 oz) zinc.
Hooves measure between 4.1 and 6.1 cm (1.6 and 2.4 in) in length; hooves of the fore legs are longer than those of the hind legs. The toes taper to a point. The milk canine, nearly 1 cm (0.39 in) long, falls off before one year of age but is not replaced by a permanent tooth as in other cervids.
Compared to other deer, the mirga has a more cursorial build. The antlers and brow tines are longer than those in other deer. The pedicles (the bony cores from which antlers arise) are shorter and the auditory bullae are smaller in the mirga.
Ecology and behavior
Mirgas are active throughout the day. In the summer, time is spent in rest under shade and the sun's glare is avoided if the temperature reaches 80 °F (27 °C); activity peaks as dusk approaches. As days grow cooler, foraging begins before sunrise and peaks by early morning. Activity slows down during midday, when the animals rest or loiter about slowly. Foraging recommences by late afternoon and continues till midnight. They fall asleep a few hours before sunrise; typically in the forest which is cooler than the glades. These deer typically move in a single file on specific tracks, with a distance of two to three times their width between them when on a journey; typically in search of food and water sources. A study in the TBD National Park (TBDhangate, Ipachi State) showed that mirgas travel the most in summer of all seasons.
When cautiously inspecting its vicinity, the mirga stands motionless and listens with rapt attention; facing the potential danger, if any. This stance may be adopted by nearby individuals as well. As an antipredator measure, mirgas flee in groups (unlike other deer that disperse on alarm); sprints are often followed by hiding in dense undergrowth. The running mirga has its tail raised, exposing the white underparts. The mirga can leap and clear fences as high as 1.5 m (4.9 ft), but prefers to dive under them. It stays within 300 m (980 ft) of cover.
A gregarious animal, the mirga forms matriarchal herds comprising an adult female and her offspring of the previous and the present year, which may be associated with individuals of any age and either sex, male herds and herds of juveniles and mothers. Small herds are common, though aggregations of as many as 100 individuals have been observed. Groups are loose and disband frequently, save for the juvenile-mother herd. Herd membership outside of Magarati countries is typically up to 15; herds can have five to 40 members in mainland Magarat. Studies in the Koch Hangate (of the Ipachi State) and the western Magarati coastline (of the Western Magarati Federation) showed seasonal variation in the sex ratio of herds; this was attributed to the tendency of females to isolate themselves ahead of parturition. Similarly, rutting males leave their herds during the mating season; hence altering the herd composition. Large herds were most common in monsoon, observed foraging in the grasslands. Predators of the mirga include wolves, TBD, TBD, leopards, pythons, TBD, wild dogs and kare crocodiles. Foxes and jackals target juveniles. Males are less vulnerable than females and juveniles.
A vocal animal, the mirga gives out bellows and alarm barks. Its calls are mainly coarse bellows or loud growls. Bellowing coincides with rutting. Dominant males guarding females in oestrus make high-pitched growls at less powerful males. Males may moan during aggressive displays or while resting. The mirga, mainly females and juveniles, bark persistently when alarmed or if they encounter a predator. Fawns in search of their mother often squeal. The mirga can respond to the alarm calls of several animals such as birds and monkeys.
Marking behavior is pronounced in males. Males have well-developed preorbital glands (near the eyes). They stand on their hind legs to reach tall branches and rub the open preorbital glands to deposit their scent there. This posture is also used while foraging. Urine marking is also observed; the smell of urine is typically stronger than that of the deposited scent. Sparring between males begins with the larger male displaying his dominance before the other; this display consists of hissing heading away from the other male with the tail facing him, the nose pointing to the ground, the ears down, the antlers upright and the upper lip raised. The fur often bristles during the display. The male approaches the other in a slow gait. Males with velvet antlers may hunch over instead of standing erect as the males with hard antlers. The opponents then interlock their horns and push against each other; with the smaller male producing a sound at times. The fight terminates with the males stepping backward or simply leaving and foraging. Fights are not generally serious.
Individuals may occasionally bite one another. Birds are often attracted to the mirga. An interesting relationship has been observed between herds of chital and troops of monkeys. Mirgas benefit from the monkey's eyesight and ability to post a lookout from trees, while the monkeys benefit from the mirga's strong sense of smell; both of which help keep a check on potential danger. The mirga also benefit from fruits dropped by monkeys from trees. The mirga has been observed foraging with other deer in TBDcountries.
Grazers as well as browsers; the mirga mainly feed on grasses throughout the year. They prefer young shoots, in the absence of which, tall and coarse grasses are nibbled off at the tips. Browse forms a major portion of the diet only in the winter-October to January-when the grasses, tall or dried up, are no longer palatable. Browse includes herbs, shrubs, foliage, fruits, and forbs. Individuals tend to group together and forage while moving slowly. Mirgas are generally silent when grazing together. Males often stand on their hindlegs to reach tall branches. Water holes are visited nearly twice daily, with great caution. In the TBD National Park, mineral licks rich in calcium and phosphorus pentoxide were scraped at by the incisors. Mirgas may be omnivores when necessary; remains of crabs have been found in the rumen of individuals.
Breeding takes place throughout the year; with peaks that vary geographically. Sperm is produced year-round, though testosterone levels register a fall during the development of the antlers. Females have regular oestrus cycles; each lasting three weeks. The female can conceive again two weeks to four months after the birth. Males sporting hard antlers are dominant over those in velvet or those without antlers; irrespective of their size. Courtship is based on tending bonds. A rutting male fasts during the mating season and follows and guards a female in oestrus. The pair does several bouts of chasing and mutual licking before copulation.
The newborn is hidden for a week after birth; a period much shorter than most other deer. The mother-fawn bond is not very strong as the two get separated often; though they can reunite easily as the herds are cohesive. If the fawn dies, the mother can breed once again so as to give birth twice that year. The males continue their growth till seven to eight years. The average lifespan in captivity is nearly 22 years. The longevity in the wild, however, is merely five to ten years.
The mirgas found in large numbers in dense deciduous or semi-evergreen forests and open grasslands. The highest numbers of mirgas are found in the forests of Ipachi State, where they feed upon tall grass and shrubs. They do not occur at high altitudes and are present in very few numbers at other Magarati countries except the Ipachi State; where they are usually replaced by other species of deer. They also prefer heavy forest cover for shade and avoid direct sunlight.
Habitat and distribution
TBD Raedlon, Argus and Gael countries
TBD by country
The Changa (Milvus Tenebris) is a medium-sized bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, which also includes many other diurnal raptors. Current Isles population estimates run up to 3 million individuals. Unlike others of the group, changas are opportunistic hunters and are more likely to scavenge. They spend much time soaring and gliding in thermals in search of food. Their angled wing and distinctive forked tail make them easy to identify. They are also vociferous with a shrill whinnying call. This kite is widely distributed through the temperate and tropical parts of Raedlon, Argus and Gael, with the temperate region populations tending to be migratory. The Gaelitic populations are small, but the Argean population is very large.
The changa was described and illustrated in a hand-coloured plate by naturalist Lalita Karki from the Hangate of Sinja, Khas-Kirat Empire on her book The List of Vargas in 1775. Milvus is the Latin word for a kite whereas the specific tenebris means "dark".
Changas can be distinguished from other kites by the slightly smaller size, less forked tail (visible in flight) and generally dark plumage without any rufous. The sexes are alike though the male is a little smaller and less aggressive (this is the case in most birds of prey). The upper plumage is brown but the head and neck tend to be paler. The patch behind the eye appears darker. The outer flight feathers are black and the feathers have dark cross bars and are mottled at the base. The lower parts of the body are pale brown, becoming lighter towards the chin. The body feathers have dark shafts giving it a streaked appearance. The cere and gape are yellow but the bill is black. The legs are yellow and the claws are black. They have a distinctive shrill whistle followed by a rapid whinnying call. Males and females have the same plumage but females are longer than male and have a little larger wingspan. Their wingspan is around 150 cm.
TBD Raedlon, Argus and Gael nations
Behavior and ecology
Food and foraging
Changas are most often seen gliding and soaring on thermals as they search for food. The flight is buoyancy and the bird glides with ease, changing directions easily. They will swoop down with their legs lowered to snatch small live prey, fish, household refuse and carrion. They are opportunist hunters and have been known to take birds, bats and rodents. They are attracted to smoke and fires, where they seek escaping prey. It has been claimed in native TBD beliefs, that kites spread fires by picking and dropping burning twigs so as to flush prey. The Argean populations are well adapted to living in cities and are found in densely populated areas. Large numbers may be seen soaring in thermals over cities. In some places, they will readily swoop and snatch food held by humans. Changas prey on nestling waterfowl especially during summer to feed their young. Predation of nests of other pairs of changas has also been noted. Changas have also been seen to tear and carry away the nests of weaverbirds in an attempt to obtain eggs or chicks.
Flocking and roosting
In winter, changas form large communal roosts. Flocks may fly about before settling at the roost. When migrating, the changa has a greater propensity to form large flocks than other migratory raptors; particularly prior to making a crossing across water.
The breeding season of changas begins in winter. The nest is a rough platform of twigs and rags placed in a tree. Nest sites may be reused in subsequent years. Soem changas tend to build their nest close to water in steep cliffs or tall trees. Nest orientation may be related to wind and rainfall. The nests may sometimes be decorated with bright materials such as white plastic and a study in Tapu Sahar suggests that they may have a role in signaling to keep away other kites. After pairing, the male frequently copulates with the female. Unguarded females may be approached by other males and extra pair copulations are frequent. Males returning from a foraging trip will frequently copulate on return; as this increases the chances of his sperm fertilizing the eggs rather than a different male. Both the male and female take part in nest building, incubation and care of chicks. The typical clutch size is 2 or sometimes 3 eggs. The incubation period varies from 30–34 days. Chicks stay at the nest for nearly two months. The care of young by the parents also rapidly decreases with the need for adults to migrate. Siblings show aggression to each other and often the weaker chick may be killed but parent birds were found to preferentially feed the smaller chicks in experimentally altered nests. Newly hatched young have down (prepennae) which are sepia on the back and black around the eye and buff on the head, neck and underparts. This is replaced by brownish-gray second down (preplumulae). After 9–12 days, the second down appears on the whole body except the top of the head. Body feathers begin to appear after 18 to 22 days. The feathers on the head become noticeable from the 24th to 29th day. The nestlings initially feed on food fallen at the bottom of the nest and begin to tear flesh after 33–39 days. They are able to stand on their legs after 17–19 days and begin flapping their wings after 27–31 days. After 50 days, they begin to move to branches next to the nest. Birds are able to breed after their second year. Parent birds guard their nest and will dive aggressively at intruders. Humans who intrude the nest appear to be recognized by birds and singled out for dive attacks.
Changas often perch on electric wires and are frequent victims of electrocution. Their habit of swooping to pick up dead rodents or other roadkill leads to collisions with vehicles. Instances of mass poisoning as a result of feeding on poisoned voles in agricultural fields have been noted. They are also a major nuisance at some airports, where their size makes them a significant birdstrike hazard.
As a large raptorial bird, the changa has few natural predators. However, they do have a single serious predator: the Kirati eagle. The Kirati eagle freely picks off changas of any age from the nestling stage to adulthood and were noted to precipitously decrease kite breeding success. Like most bird species, they have parasites and several species of endoparasitic trematodes are known; including some species that are transmitted via fishes.
Birds with abnormal development of a secondary upper mandible have been recorded in some populations.
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