Not actually a true bird, the Moadi is actually more closely related to draconiforms, being both warm-blooded and scaled, with neither feather nor fur. It is the size of a raven, and is covered in scales much like those of plate armour, the edges of which are slightly raised, and highly distinctive. It has a beak which is divided into four segments, the insides of which are lined with an array of fine, rear-facing spikes that catch and hold food as it is being consumed. The edges of the beak have a strong and muscular lining that is highly dexterous, and serves the Moadi in place of a tongue. The tongue itself has been adapted into the walls of the throat, much like that of a snake. Like the beak, it bears rear-facing serrations, to prevent prey from sliding out.
The Moadi’s wings, first appearing to be like those of a bird, are covered instead in razor sharp, highly specialized scales that are designed for cutting through the wind, and dealing sharp lacerations to prey items. The scales are attached, and cannot be thrown as projectiles. Instead, a Moadi will buffet its supper in order to separate the flesh into easily swallowed segments. In order to withstand this action, a Moadi has solid bones, like a terrestrial creature, to maximize its power. The weight of the scales and solid bones is offset by the lower gravity of its home, as well as by a specialized series of chambers filled with a lighter-than-air gas and reinforced by bone to prevent ruptures.
In the rest of its biology, it is highly similar to the raven, excepting the tail, which more closely resembles that of the extinct saurian anchiornis or microraptor.
It is, however, not the biology of the Moadi that makes it so fearsome, but its hunting and dining habits. Moadi are primarily ambush predators, lying in wait for their chosen prey. Moadi do not use their wings or talons for hunting, but rather, their minds. All Moadi are psychic predators, often linking together into a single hive mind to capture and immobilize prey. Moadi never hunt alone, linking instead into groups of between three and thirty individuals. Once they have selected their prey, Moadi ruthlessly and painfully seize control of their target’s mind, feeding on the fear and agony that their grip induces. Instead of killing their prey right away, they take their unlucky victim to their nest, where they proceed to eat their victim alive, preserving the mind and life until the last possible moment, stemming or redirecting bloodflow and cutting with nearly surgical precision. Often, a victim has been stripped nearly to the bones before being given the mercy of oblivion. Particularly sadistic hives will often allow the victim to heal completely before renewing the process, thus maximizing the overall feed that they receive. This process can take between months and years, resulting in indescribable agony for their victims.
It has been speculated that Moadi display some degree of sentience beyond simply catching and devouring prey. If this is true, then it is fortunate that the Moadi seem to seek nothing beyond prey.
In culture, Moadi are occasionally used as a death penalty, exiling the victims to the Moadi’s territory, and waiting for them to prey on the hapless criminal. Due to the violent nature of the death, however, this penalty is reserved solely for the worst and most irredeemable criminals. Most times, however, Moadi are ruthlessly hunted, their numbers culled to minimize chances of a large hive rising. Moadi scales are seen as ill luck, and are believed to hold the spirits of the deceased animal within them. Hunters wear these cursed scales in the hopes that they will deter the Moadi from hunting him, thinking him to be a deceased member of the hive.
Seek not the Moadi-Bird!