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The thunderbird is a large, avian creature native to the arid Arizona climate in the United States.[2][3] It is closely related to the phoenix.[3] An Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry house was named after this creature. It can create storms as it flies, and can sense danger.[1]

The famous American wandmaker Shikoba Wolfe used Thunderbird tail feather as a wand core in the early 20th century.[3]

After rescuing a Thunderbird from traffickers in Egypt, Newton Scamander named him Frank, and promised to return him to his natural habitat in Arizona.[2]

Physical description

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". Thunderbirds possess multiple and powerful wings, with Frank the thunderbird shown having six wings in total. Thunderbird feathers shimmer with cloud-like patterns, and the birds' flapping can create storms as they fly.[2]


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[4]
  • The thunderbird is a legendary creature which is featured in the mythology of certain indigenous peoples of North America.[5] It is especially prominent within the cultures of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest, and is frequently featured in their art, songs, and stories.[5] However, 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.[5] 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.[5]
  • 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".[6] 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 who married a no-Maj of the Pocomtuc tribe, 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 into the Abenaki tribe. Many of the present-day Abenaki of New Hampshire, Vermont, and Canada are of part-Pocumtuc ancestry.[7]
  • Many schools and colleges in then United States and Canada use a Thunderbird as their mascot and symbol. Notable schools that tote a Thunderbird mascot include Mesa Community College, located in the Thunderbird's native habitat of the Arizona desert and the University of British Columbia.



What Is a Thunderbird?00:18

What Is a Thunderbird?

See also

Notes and references

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