Flame Bird Edit
The Flame bird is a rare and beautiful bird with a unique method for hunting prey.
Golden in colour and large in size, the Flame Bird is an apex predator on the few worlds where it is found. Ironically, despite its association with Velor, the Flame bird can not live there and its original homeworld is unknown.
Seeing the Flame Bird in flight, one might think its name is derived from the golden aura, caused by sunlight glittering off of its golden wings, especially at dawn when it can be mistaken for a shooting star or meteorite.
In fact, although able to fly great distances due to its large wing span, the Flame Bird is actually a slow bird with talons much smaller than one would expect. This is because it does not rely on muscle power to hunt but instead projects heat beams from its eyes which enable it to literally cook whatever it looks at.
Naturally this is good not only for killing prey, but for deterring predators as anything that thinks the Flame Bird might make a meal quickly finds itself on the menu instead. Indeed, if it were not for the fact that a Flame bird can only flame three times a day, it might have prevented inhabitation of any planet it exists on for humans are within the size range of its natural prey, and its vission gives it a range advantage over most projectile weapons.
Prey and Hunting Edit
Because the bird is found on a number of worlds, there is no 'typical' prey associated with its diet. It usually attacks dog sized animals, particularly if they have long fur, although it will prioritise other birds -- presumably because their feathers make them easier to cook -- if ones of sufficient size are available. It will attack land targets up to 95kg in weight and is not above scavenging the carcasses of even larger animals which have already been felled.
The Flame bird has excellent eyesight and its usual strategy is to glide at high altitude until something attracts its attention. At that point it will begin to circle, gradually coming closer to the ground until it is within 900 meters of its target at which point it will flash once, or occasionally twice (Flame Birds almost always keep their third flash for predators) until the target is an inferno, at which point it will land amongst the flames and gorge. If the prey lacks sufficient hair to burn, Flame Birds are patient and will track for as long as two days, re-attacking as they recharge, to see if the animal collapses.
Like all of its kind, a Flame Bird will stay back until it is certain every sign of life is gone.
Heat Vision Edit
Because of their rarity, the exact mechanism behind their incredible adaptation has never been properly investigated although it is theorised to be similar to the one used by Supremis -- indeed it is widely believed that the Galen stole the vision genes from the Flame Bird and imported them into their test subjects. For the longest time, Scholars could only guess at how the bird generates its most impressive talent; it carries two pendulous glands (Lumux) on its neck behind its head and for hundreds of years it was thought that they may generate and store chemicals which, when mixed, would produce an intense burst of energy that the bird could then focus. It wasn't until intact, verifiable feathers were bought from a Scalantran trader who owned a caged specimen that scientists discovered that the secret was due to the bird's golden shine; each feather is in fact a crystalline lattice of photovoltaic cells which convert sunlight and channel it into a unique sodium based filament in the quill. Sadly the Scalantran was not willing to part with his prized pet so the means by which this energy is stored or used is still a mystery, but even this small discovery has explained many things, notably why the bird is only found on extremely sunny planets.
Despite its reputation, a Flame Bird can typically project only 450 degrees of heat for slightly longer than one second. Thus, while able to inflict a fearsome, even disabling wound, unless the animal has high fur density it can usually limp away. Humans wishing to observe the bird should take care to wear clothing with high heat tolerances and make sure to wear wide hats at all time as a Fire Bird's aim is exceptional.