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Thunderbird

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"Flying beast that can sense danger, and create storms as it flies."
—{{{2}}}
The Thunderbird is a large, avian creature native to North America, and most commonly found in Arizona in the southwestern United States.[2][3] A close relative of the Phoenix,[3] the Thunderbird can create storms as it flies and is highly sensitive to danger.[1] A house at Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is named after this creature.

History

Shikoba Wolfe, who was of Choctaw descent, was primarily famous for intricately carved wands containing Thunderbird tail feathers. Wolfe wands were generally held to be extremely powerful, though difficult to master. They were particularly prized by Transfigurers.[4]

After rescuing a Thunderbird from traffickers in Egypt around 1926, Newton Scamander named him Frank, and worked to return him to his natural habitat in Arizona.[2] Frank was actually released in New York to help obliviate the population to a series of recent magical occurrences, but ultimately made it to Arizona.[5]

In late 1927, Madam Seraphina Picquery, then-President of MACUSA, declared the Thunderbird a protected species.[4]

Description

ThunderbirdPottermore

Paper construction of Thunderbird by artist Andy Singleton

The Thunderbird is described as having a head that is "similar to that of an eagle"; or, in the wizarding world, "similar to that of a Hippogriff". They possess multiple and powerful wings, with Frank the thunderbird shown having six wings in total. Thunderbird feathers shimmer with cloud-like patterns.[2]The Thunderbird is known to change colours as it summons storms, its iridescent feathers shifting from various shades of gold, to electrifying blue, to grey and silver, to white, and even to deep navy.

Thunderbirds also sense danger and creates storms as it flies.

Behind the scenes

"I wanted to have one thing that was quintessentially American, and the Thunderbird is. I feel a special kinship for birds. I loved Dumbledore's phoenix, and I wanted a bird in this film with its own mythology. When the thunder bird flaps its multiple wings, it creates storms, so it's a powerful, mythical creature"
—J.K. Rowling on the Thunderbird[6]
  • The thunderbird is a legendary creature which appears in the mythology of certain indigenous peoples of North America.[7] It is especially prominent within the cultures of the Pacific Northwest, and is frequently featured in their art, songs, and stories.[7] Versions of the thunderbird are also found in the traditions of peoples of the American Southwest, Great Lakes, and Great Plains regions of the continent.[7] Accounts of the thunderbird and its characteristics vary, but it is often described as a very large bird, capable of generating storms and thunder as it flies.[7]
  • Based on concept art in The Case of Beasts: Explore the Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and pop art commissioned from artist Andy Singleton for Pottermore, the Thunderbird may have different colour variations within the species. Based on similar birds of prey, such as the Bald Eagle, the Thunderbird may also have sexual dimorphism between males and females. The standard sexual dimorphism noted in Bald Eagles is that females tend to be about 25% larger than males.
  • Based on historical accounts, and the widespread tales of large birds/"thunderbirds" in Native American lore and mythology, the range of the Thunderbird once may have extended across the continental United States. In the folklore of the Penobscot and Abenaki tribes of Maine, there exists a legendary bird named "Pamola" (meaning "he curses on the mountain"), who was likely a thunderbird. He was said to be a spirit that lived on the summit of Mount Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine, and "resented mortals intruding from below". Pamola was said to be "the god of thunder", and "the protector of the mountain". He was both feared and respected by the Penobscots and Abenakis, and his presence was one of the main reasons that climbing the mountain was considered taboo. Pamola was associated with causing "wind, snow, and storms"; caused "a noise like the whistling of a powerful wind" when flying; and was "large enough to carry off a moose".[8] The legend of Pamola may have also been the inspiration for Chadwick Boot in naming House Thunderbird of Ilvermorny. Martha Steward II, the Squib daugher of Ilvermorny founders Isolt Sayre and James Steward, married a no-Maj of the Pocomtuc tribe, and may have been familiar with this story, or the mythical bird itself. Around 1754, the Pocomtuc tribe, due to the Seven Years' War, joined and merged with the Abenaki tribe. Many of the present-day Abenaki of New Hampshire, Vermont, and Canada are of part-Pocumtuc ancestry.[9]
  • Many schools and colleges in the United States and Canada use a Thunderbird as their mascot and symbol. Notable schools include Mesa Community College, located in the Thunderbird's native habitat of the Arizona desert, and the University of British Columbia.
  • It is interesting to note that the Phoenix is the closest relative of the Thunderbird, as both birds are affiliated with the elements of fire and lightning respectively, both of which are forms of the fourth state of matter, plasma.
  • The Thunderbird is also connected to the Phoenix in that they both have life renewing properties: while the Phoenix rejuvenates itself by burning and rising from its ashes in addition to the healing properties of its tears, the Thunderbird summons storms that bring life-giving rains to the deserts.
  • Funnily enough, the Phoenix is the namesake of the State Capital of Arizona, Phoenix Arizona, which is part of the Thunderbird's native range and habitat.

Appearances

Media

What Is a Thunderbird?00:18

What Is a Thunderbird?

See also

Notes and references