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


The famous American wandmaker Shikoba Wolfe used Thunderbird tail feather as a wand core in the early 20th century.[3] Wands created with its feathers have been known to fire curses preemptively due to the Thunderbird's sensitivity to supernatural danger.[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 the recent magical occurrences, but ultimately made it to Arizona.[5]

In late 1927, the Thunderbird was made a protected species by then-President Madam Seraphina Picquiry.[4]

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[6]
  • The thunderbird is a legendary creature which is featured in the mythology of certain indigenous peoples of North America.[7] 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.[7] 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.[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 for the film 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 color 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 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.[9]
  • 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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