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Comments: 15
Ideas: 0
Rating: 4.35
Condition: Normal
ID: 6738


May 22, 2012, 5:58 am

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Surgeon Birds


A big flock can suck a cow bloodless in a few minutes, yet your doctor shows up carrying one around a small birdcage in the tip of his staff.  Maybe you're better off just learning to live with the kidney stones. . .


Surgeonbirds are small, hummingbird-like avians that fulfill the same ecological niche as mosquitoes. They are about the size of a man's fist, plus wings, and they must feed on blood to survive (although they supplement their diet with fruit and nectar at times). Unlike hummingbirds they are a glossy black color with only a few white feathers that ring their large eyes, giving them a sort of owlish face (they are similarly nocturnal). They are a common pest in certain areas, like the salt swamps. They are especially known for plaguing herds of cattle--a flock of surgeonbirds can leave a hundred cows anemic and half-dead if nothing is done about them.

Surgeonbirds have long, needle-like beaks that they use to draw blood from their prey. Like mosquitoes, surgeonbirds also have an anesthetizing substance: their tears. Surgeonbirds weep onto the skin of their prey in order to make it numb by letting the tears run down their beaks. They hover while feeding. Surgeonbirds can easily suck a couple of ounces of blood from a human. If a sleeping human gets several bites in the night, they may wake up feeling faint and weak. Consecutive nights will easily kill a man.  

In the wild, surgeonbirds can grow to be quite large (perhaps the size of two large fists). Larger surgeonbirds can move faster than younger ones, and sometimes flocks containing many larger surgeonbirds will not bother with stealth or anesthesia, but rather mob the unfortunate victim en masse, all simultaneously distracting their prey while other birds seize opportunities to dash in, draw a quick pull of blood with their stilletto-like beak, and leave the prey to bleed. If the prey cannot quickly escape or find a way to deter the flock of ravenous surgeonbirds, the prey may find itself quickly dying from dozens of tiny puncture wounds. Surgeonbirds have no aversion to drinking spilled blood. These large, aggressive swarms are especially known to occur in the Londeen Swamp, the Frogwash Fen and southern Bar Chakka.

Back in civilization, surgeonbirds are often used by doctors, in order to take advantage of the known advantages of controlled bloodletting. The surgeonbirds that doctors use are small and well-trained to ensure that no discomfort comes to the patient. Surgeons also use the birds to provide local anesthesia for minor surgeries. In Asria and Meltheria, doctors sometimes carry a surgeonbird in the head of their staffs, which has a sort of miniature birdcage attached to it. In fact, during times of plague, doctors along the eastern coast traditionally wear plague masks that resemble the heads of surgeonbirds. These plague masks operate on the known principle that plagues spread through bad air, and by breathing through the perfumed beak, a doctor may be spared the infection.


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Comments ( 15 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Silveressa
May 22, 2012, 6:36

A well thought out and unique predator that additionally serves a useful secondary purpose in the medical field, well done!

Bonus points for a creature that can be use "as is" for part of an aliens planet fauna in space faring games, or fit just as readily into post apocalypse setting as well.

May 23, 2012, 5:30
If you use it in a space-faring game be sure to give it little deely-bobber antenna.
Voted OmegaDraco
May 22, 2012, 9:55
These things are scary! Imagine hearing a fluttering sound behind you. You turn around to feel something snagged on the back of your neck. You brush it off and turn again to see this black vampire hummingbird with white circles around it's eyes staring back at you with blood dripping from its syringe-like beak. You leap to your feet in surprise only to find yourself feeling faint as the warmth of your own blood trickles down your back where two more were still feeding. You take a defensive stance as the surgeonbirds hover just out of reach, waiting for as long as it takes for you to let down your guard again. Feeling faint from blood loss and being watched by the white-circled eyes of the vampiric predators, how long can you stay awake?

May 23, 2012, 5:34
Terrifying, right? Hummingbirds move like bees or something.

In response to your question I would try stuff tree branches in my clothes while running through the woods and shrieking like a cheerleader.
Voted Scrasamax
May 22, 2012, 10:03
Excellent work
Voted Strolen
May 22, 2012, 13:59
They should give you cookies and orange juice.
Voted Cheka Man
May 22, 2012, 14:55
How does one train these?
May 23, 2012, 5:27
Put it on a little leash. Scare it when it is bad. Give it some blood when it is good. Avoid training more than a couple at a time, unless you have some step-children somewhere.
Voted Murometz
May 22, 2012, 17:50
I love them, for all the reasons stated above! Wonderful creature. I'm adopting them to my campaign game-world. Thanks!!
Voted Kassy
May 22, 2012, 18:24
To five it or not to five it? That, is the question.

After a little thought, I've decided to give you a 4.5/5.

I must say, I really enjoyed reading this one. It's unique. Brilliant, and I love the image in my head of a traveling doctor with one attached to the top of his walking staff.
May 23, 2012, 5:28
Yeah, I can imagine them being kinda cute, when it's all snuggly in its little cage, and not. . . drinking me.
Voted Mourngrymn
May 23, 2012, 19:33
This is a pretty cool idea. It has some function to it that would definitely scare the hell out of a group of players that see a swarm of these mob a single victim and leave a husk dropping limply to the earth before their eyes only to turn and run when the birds see them and begin swarming in their direction.
Voted Roack
May 29, 2012, 6:00
Awesome! Ever-so reminiscent of the stirge, original, and absolutely terrifying. I can see them fitting pretty flexibly into encounters. On the one hand they be seen like giant mosquitoes, harassing characters and generally being hard to hit. On the other, more harrowing hand they can be avian-piranhas, swiftly killing when in flocks.

Their ties to civilization are what really set them apart, though. I love seeing fauna incorporated into the culture and ecology of a game. Also, who doesn't love the image of a Plague Doctor?
May 29, 2012, 7:33
I had completely forgotten about the stirge.. .damn those things.
Voted valadaar
December 18, 2014, 13:02
Great all round idea! A nice remake of the classic stirge.

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