The Northern Bald Ibis, or Waldrapp, is a large, migratory bird found in the arid, rocky regions of Morocco, Syria, and Turkey. These ibis have glossy black feathers, long, hooked beaks, and bald heads, resembling those of vultures. They are omnivorous, live in colonies, and breed along cliff ledges, where they typically lay two to three eggs.
Once thriving all along the Mediterranean, the Northern Bald Ibis has been experiencing a long-term decline, now considered critically endangered with as little as 500 left in the wild, primarily in Morocco. Conservation efforts are being made to maintain and improve the remaining wild population, with reintroductions taking place in Austria and Turkey. There is also an estimated 1100 birds in zoos, across Europe, Japan, and North America.
Together with the regular ibis, these birds played and important part in the mythology of the ancient eastern mediterranean - the two species seem to have been regarded almost interchangably by some societies, but the bald ibis features specifically in some cultic legends, such as that it was amongst the first birds that Noah released from his Ark or that the annual migration of Bald Ibises from Turkey was meant to guide Islamic pilgrims to Mecca.
Game and Story Use
- They make for an exotic lycanthrope.
- I often compare the Waldrapp and it's beak to that of a plague doctor. A plague doctor lycanthrope could make for a neat character or NPC.
- Some might think they make for a sufficient source of Nightmare Fuel.
- In your story, poachers may be hunting them for their beautiful feathers.
- May make for a more exotic spirit guide than, say, a raven.
- Or perhaps a regionally appropriate psychopomp like H.P. Lovecraft's whipoorwhils.