Aelirels are small birds of white plumage that live in forests, plains, and heaths throughout Santharia. They live in communities and work together to hunt for flies and beetles, as well as other insects. They also enjoy berries and nuts. Aelirels are fairly friendly birds, often causing them to put themselves in dangerous situations. They are viewed as the symbol of innocence and are often associated with the hobbit deity Dalireen.
Appearance. The Aelirel is a rather sweet and gentle bird, pretty small in comparison to others, but their size only adds to their innocent manner. From their slender and comparatively harmless talons to the top of their white heads, they are about 7 to 9 nailsbreadths, and from their chest to the tip of their tail, about 9 to 10 nailsbreadths. The wingspan of these gentle birds is 15 or 18 nailsbreadths.
Picture description. An Aelirel Bird singing in the trees. Picture drawn by Seeker.
The Aelirel’s plumage is always white, and is kept so by much preening. Aelirels
also molt their feathers at least once a month to maintain a fresh white color.
The feathers, as already stated, are white. They sometimes seem to shimmer
gently in the light. They are very soft and sometimes feel almost silken. The
Aelirel has two spheres under its wings dangling from two (what seems to be)
chords. Though these spheres look as though they’ve been connected to the body
with string, these spheres are actually filled with
water and bodily fluids that can be used
for emergency, but also serve as weights.
The Aelirel has Nor’sidian black eyes that gleam in the light and they have small, sharp little beaks. The color of their beaks, feet, and the spheres on either side varies depending on sex and location. In warmer climates, around Southern Santharia, the males have red-orange beaks, feet, and spheres, while the females have orange-yellow. In Northern Santharia, where it is colder, the males have greenish-blue appendages while the females have bluish-purple.
Aelirels have a voice that has an amazing ability to calm and sooth. Their song
is very soft, breezy, fluid and almost ethereal in a way that seems to be the
musical manifestation of child-like wonder. Their song sounds similar to a
“riel” or “rieu”, often drawn out and done with a variety of pitches that always
seem to harmonize with each other.
Territory. Aelirels are found in forests throughout Santharia, and sometimes even in plains and heaths. They tend to avoid big cities or places where there aren’t too many trees. They make their homes in trees, often in places where their nests are hidden, though some Aelirels have been known to make their homes in tall grasses, like the alth’ho grass.
Nests are made with a great amount of effort and care. Parents will take great lengths to make sure that their nests are both strong and soft in preparation for their young. Nests are commonly first made with small sticks and twigs, weaves together for strength. After that they will pillow the inside with soft leaves and often times fur and feathers of the animals that live around them. In fact, many researchers, new to an area, will look at an Aelirels nest to determine what kind of animals are in the area.
Habitat/Behaviour. Aelirels love sunlight and even though they live in forests and woods, they will often fly just above the canopy under the sun. However, Aelirels are also fond of moonlight, and though they are not often seen at night, one can sometimes see them flying through the night air when the moon is full. It is also believed that they are attracted to the sound of children laughing or singing merrily. They tend to be rather friendly and prolific birds, not as afraid of humans, elves, etc. as most birds are.
Aelirels, despite the size of their brain, have a unique social structure. They
actually work and live together in small communities in different forests and
areas. A community may be comprised of anywhere from 6 to 20 birds or more.
These birds will hunt together in the same way oracaus
might. They feed on bugs, and may herd them like sheep and corner them, then
feast on them together. They all live together and have nests near each other,
and will call out in time of danger.
When Aelirels make a mate, they will usually keep the same mate until they die, or until their mate dies. If their mate dies, they will typically seek out a new mate in the following season. Both parents will take care of their babies until they are able to fly and feed for themselves. As for feeding, Aelirels often hunt during the day and will sleep during the night.
Diet. Aelirels eat a number of bugs, including flies and beetles. They hunt in groups, and will usually herd great numbers of flies together and will corner them or else surround them. The will then move in and eat them one by one. To see this is a incredible sight indeed: several white birds flying in and out of a ball of black flies. Such eating frenzies will also sometimes attract other animals that eat bugs, like snakes, bats, and even other birds.
But bugs are not the only things these birds eat. They will also happily eat berries and nuts, which they may find on the ground or hanging from a branch. They particularly like berries such as vinterberries, grapes, and will even try to eat fruits like meldarapple as they seem to enjoy sweet things.
A typically round Aelriel egg. Picture by Bard Judith.
Though mating occurs in autumn, pairing usually happens in late spring and
summer. The days that pairing occurs differs between different groups. Courting
is not very formal, but might rather remind one of flirting among adolescents.
Aelirels will sing and fly freely in the air. Males will sing to a potential
mate, and if she returns his song, repeating his notes. He will then fly with
her and they will twirl and touch in flight. They may do this for hours and, if
they are satisfied with each other, then will leave the group dancing.
The Aelirels will begin making a nest soon after this pairing, and live together until they mate in autumn. After mating, they will continue to live together. During the winter, they do not hibernate, but will slow down in their activities, most often, though those living in the southern areas of Santharia may stay active all year around. Usually either near the end of winter or else in the beginning of spring, the eggs of the Aelirels are laid. These eggs are small: hardly 3 nailsbreadths from end to end, and can come in groups of four or five. The eggs start out white, but as growth within the egg progresses, it will commonly tint a certain color, which is defined by what the color of the birds beak, feet, and spheres will be.
The Aelirets, as they’re called, will hatch during mid to late summer and their parents will work almost constantly to provide enough food for the chicks. The parents have to feed them enough to ensure they will live through the winter. Though dying during the winter isn’t common, it is certainly possible if the parents skimp on their responsibility. Sometimes the parents will mate and have eggs in their nest while their older chicks are still there when winter turns to spring, though such is not terribly common.
However, the older chicks are usually gone before those of the next generation have hatched. The Aelirets will learn how to fly in early and mid spring. Still, they will not pair right away, but instead will typically wait until the next year to pair and eventually mate. These birds commonly live between 7 and 9 years. Though Aelirels are prolific in their reproduction and the length of their life, their population is kept in check by predators. Usually their friendliness towards both people and other animals leads them into dangerous situations.
Usages. Aelirels are a very small and pretty little bird, and their song is pleasant to the ear. As such, they are rather popular as pets, and are often sold in pairs in some cities and towns by those who first catch the birds as chicks in the forests surrounding the town. They are almost always sold in pairs, a male and a female, and are considered a rather charming pet. However, they are a fairly high-maintenance bird.
Aelirels need enough resources to build a nest, including sticks, twigs, and feathers (or something soft). Sometimes one can buy nests when they buy the birds, as well. The birds require daily exercise to help them use of the plethora of energy they have. Usually one can let them out of their cage to fly around the house when they are first purchased. As long as the birds have a reason to return to their cage, such as food or their nest, they will happily return each time. These birds are not extremely intelligent, but can sometimes be taught to do simple tricks using food as a reward.
Myth/Lore. Aelirels are commonly associated with Dalireen, the hobbit deity of song, dance, and storytelling, but also of innocence. The merry singing of these birds is believed to echo that of Dalireen, or else to sing her song, and their sky-dance is believed to imitate Dalireen’s. However, the strongest connection these birds have with Dalireen is their innocence. Aelirels are believed to symbolize innocence, especially the innocence of children. Their pure white color is believed to echo the pure soul of children.
It is believed by many hobbits and even by some humans that each child, at birth, has a connection with one of these birds and, though they may never meet or see each other, they share hardships and laughter. It is believed that when the the child loses his/her innocence, the Aelirel they are connected to dies. There is no proof of this, but it is assumed as being true in many hobbit tribes.
Information provided by Rayne Avalotus