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The messenger hawk, also known as dragon hawk, is a moderately-sized raptor indigenous to the jungles of the Fire Nation[1] that can be used to transport message scrolls carried in attached canisters, with different colored ribbons used to indicate the importance or intended receiver. These hawks are regularly used to deliver messages throughout the Fire Nation,[2] its colonies,[3] and the Earth Kingdom,[4] and can be bought at post offices, such as the one located in Fire Fountain City, which have large roosting towers for the birds.[5]

History

Messenger hawks were originally kept as pets by Fire Nation citizens, who recognized their innate ability to locate people and places hundreds of years ago and trained them to deliver messages over long distances.[1] By the era of Yangchen, they were regularly used in both the Fire Nation[6][7] and Earth Kingdom[8][9][10] to communicate across great distances and continued to be used by the Fire Nation government and ordinary civilians throughout the duration of the Hundred Year War for their message-carrying ability.[5]

Zongdu Chaisee of Jonduri had a contradictory approach to messenger hawks. She did not think they were secure enough if someone wanted to send a message to her, and required an in-person visit if someone wanted to deliver news.[10] However, she had no qualms about violating her own rules when she wanted to get information to others.[7] Duke Zolian of the Saowon clan used a hawk to send news to Yangchen, which was intercepted by Chaisee at Jonduri before being passed on to the Avatar.[11] Chaisee later sent a message by hawk to Yangchen on Ma'inka Island, telling her that she knew about Kavik.[7] Upon Kavik's return to Bin-Er, Boma sent a hawk to Yangchen at Port Tuugaq, confessing that he had betrayed her about where the Unanimity project was being sent.[12][13]

In 296 BG, after receiving word by messenger hawk that his shirshu tracker team was closing in on Kyoshi's location, Jianzhu acquired several more messengers hawks for his journey to meet up with the team. Saiful used one of them to inform Chamberlain Hui of the Avatar's supposed capture by a daofei.[8] Jianzhu later sent messenger hawks carrying his last will and testament to several close associates, including the Earth King and King of Omashu.[9]

In 295 BG, Chaejin used messenger hawks to alert his clan of Yun's recent infiltration and attack on the Fire Nation Royal Palace.[6]

During the Hundred Year War, these birds were an essential means of communication between different factions of the Fire Nation military.[14] The navy used them extensively to communicate across land and sea and coordinate the movements of their ships, erecting dozens of communication towers throughout the ocean, from which they could send and receive messages via hawk.[15] The army, meanwhile, relied on them to effectively communicate between the battlefield and the homeland,[1] as when a messenger hawk delivered a note to Commander Zhao in 100 AG while he was residing at Pohuai Stronghold, informing him that he had been promoted to admiral.[3]

Later that year, the governor of New Ozai, Ukano, sent a messenger hawk to the Omashu Resistance, offering to free King Bumi in exchange for the safe return of his son, Tom-Tom.[4]

A Fire Nation lookout freed a messenger hawk in order to send a message.

A few months later, Fire Nation naval officers sent a messenger hawk to the mainland in order to explain that the Water Tribe fleet for which they had been searching was destroyed. The message the bird transmitted turned out to be false, however, when the warriors of the fleet revealed themselves to be alive.[16] Not long after, two Fire Nation guards sent a black-ribboned message on a hawk to the Fire Lord after they discovered the Avatar, who was at that time believed to be dead, at the secluded hot springs. The hawk was later captured by Combustion Man's raven eagle before it could deliver the urgent message.[17] Military messengers are sometimes used in place of messenger hawks for this very reason, often carrying classified messages to high-ranking officers and officials when the use of a messenger hawk would be unsuitable for the task at hand.[18]

Sokka purchased a messenger hawk shortly thereafter, which he named Hawky, after he, Toph, and Aang won a large amount of money scamming through the use of rigged betting games. Their time together was short-lived, as Hawky was sent to deliver a message to Toph's mother and father and did not return,[5] instead taking up residence with Toph's parents.[19]

Yee-Li sends a messenger hawk to the Yu Dao chapter of the Official Avatar Aang Fan Club.

After appearing noticeably absent from the other nations during the Hundred Year War,[20] the use of messenger hawks in the Earth Kingdom resurged following the war, as seen when Yee-Li, an Earth Kingdom resident, sent a hawk in 101 AG to contact the members of the Official Avatar Aang Fan Club in Yu Dao.[21]

The following year, Zuko received a warning from the Kyoshi Warriors via messenger hawk that the New Ozai Society planned to ambush him and his family upon their return to the Fire Nation, prompting him to send back a message with a new plan for their arrival. A month later,[22] he sent another messenger hawk to Aang asking for his help when new reports came in from Capital City of a kidnapping and possible dark spirit sightings.[23]

Sometime later, in the Southern Water Tribe, Gilak's henchmen kidnapped the Earth King and sent a note via messenger hawk to Hakoda demanding his life in exchange for the safe return of Kuei.[24]

Anatomy

Messenger hawks are moderately-sized birds of prey exhibiting a range of features and colors. The most common variety has feathers that are buff-colored on the belly and underside of the wings and tail, but a darker reddish-brown on its back and top, while the outermost flight-feathers are a shade of brown in between those of the underside and back feathers. The head is also reddish-brown, with two sets of ear-tufts: The bottom is the prevailing color of the head and sticks out with a number of angular plumes, while the top is lighter and creates the appearance of horns. Its beak is brown, triangular, and hooked, and has mustache-like plumes that descend from it. The wings are relatively broad and about twice the length of the body, while the tail is broad and fan-shaped.[2]

A gray-colored variant exists as well, with white eyes and slightly larger talons that allow it to carry scrolls with its claws rather than back. Its feathers are a light gray on the belly and underside of the wings and tail and a medium gray on the outermost flight-feathers and back side of the wings, while the darkest gray is reserved for its talons and some of the facial features.[1][14][3]

A third variant, seen in the Earth Kingdom, appears more sleek, with red feathers on its backside, pink feathers on its underside, and light blue eyes. It also lacks the mustache-like plumes characteristic of other messenger hawks, has less-pronounced ear tufts, and can carry messages in a container secured to its chest rather than its back or legs.[21]

Other messenger hawks, meanwhile, resemble a mixture of the red and gray varieties, displaying reddish-brown feathers on their backside and wingtips and whitish-gray feathers on their underside. This mixed variant has a yellow-brown beak, claws, and eyes like the red type, and can carry messages attached to its feet like the gray type,[22] though other color combinations have been seen in the Southern Water Tribe.[24]

Behavior

Hawky often fought with Momo.

Tamed messenger hawks have a calm temperament though can sometimes become agitated around similarly sized animals, such as when Hawky fought with Momo after Sokka introduced them.[5] Properly trained, they can deliver messages almost anywhere in the world and show loyalty to their owners. However, they have trouble withstanding the extremely cold temperatures of the poles and may resist requests to travel there,[5][25] with only one known use of the creature in the South Pole.[24] They also show vulnerability to certain predators, such as the raven eagle, which can be trained to disable messenger hawks and steal their messages.[17][26][20]

Connection

Messenger hawks function much like homing pigeons,[14] particularly carrier pigeons, because both are capable of delivering messages to a specific location. Prior to the invention of the telegraph and radio, carrier pigeons were frequently used in battlefields as a means of mobile communication. However, unlike the pigeons, messenger hawks have the ability to locate their message's intended destination even if they have never been there before, as evidenced by Katara and Toph's dispatch of Hawky with a letter to Toph's parents.[5]

Trivia

Zuko had a pet messenger hawk in the unaired pilot.

  • Zuko was originally slated to have a messenger hawk as a pet which was supposed to have a rivalry with Momo.[27]
  • Post offices in the Fire Nation offer messenger hawk training classes for three copper pieces.[5][28]
  • Michael Dante DiMartino joked that, with the invention of the radio, the use of messenger hawks was less prevalent in the era after the Hundred Year War, saying the birds were not very reliable anyway.[29]
  • Avatar Extras for "The Beach" stated that messenger hawks are unique to the Fire Nation.[20] However, The Rise of Kyoshi depicted them being used as a form of communication in the Earth Kingdom, too.[8][9]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Creature: Dragon hawk.
  2. 2.0 2.1 From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Creature: Messenger Hawk.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Filoni, Dave (director). (June 17, 2005). "The Blue Spirit". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 13. Nickelodeon.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (April 7, 2006). "Return to Omashu". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 3. Nickelodeon.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (November 2, 2007). "The Runaway". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 7. Nickelodeon.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Twelve, "The Fire Sage". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Yee, F. C. (author). (July 19, 2022). Chapter Twenty-Two, "The Dispute". The Dawn of Yangchen. Amulet Books.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 16, 2019). Chapter Twenty-Two, "Conclusions". The Rise of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 16, 2019). Chapter Thirty-Two, "Hauntings". The Rise of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Yee, F. C. (author). (July 19, 2022). Chapter Twelve, "Outside Options". The Dawn of Yangchen. Amulet Books.
  11. Yee, F. C. (author). (July 19, 2022). Chapter Nineteen, "A Meeting of Minds". The Dawn of Yangchen. Amulet Books.
  12. Yee, F. C. (author). (July 19, 2022). Chapter Thirty-Four, "Clarity". The Dawn of Yangchen. Amulet Books.
  13. Yee, F. C. (author). (July 19, 2022). Chapter Thirty-Seven, "Reconciling". The Dawn of Yangchen. Amulet Books.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 The Lost Scrolls: Fire, page 156 of The Lost Scrolls Collection.
  15. From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Location: Fire Navy Communications Tower.
  16. Ehasz, Aaron; Hamilton, Joshua; Hedrick, Tim; Pittarese, Frank (writer), Lodge, Reagan (artist, colorist), Comicraft (letterer). "The Bridge" (September 18, 2007), Nick Mag Presents: Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Mattila, Katie (writer) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (October 19, 2007). "The Beach". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 5. Nickelodeon.
  18. From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Character: Military Messenger.
  19. From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Creature: Hawky.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Avatar Extras for "The Beach" on Nicktoons Network.
  21. 21.0 21.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). The Promise Part Two (May 30, 2012), Dark Horse Comics.
  22. 22.0 22.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). Smoke and Shadow Part One (September 23, 2015), Dark Horse Comics.
  23. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). Smoke and Shadow Part Two (December 16, 2015), Dark Horse Comics.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). North and South Part Three (April 26, 2017), Dark Horse Comics.
  25. Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Three, "Past Lives". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  26. From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Creature: Raven Eagle.
  27. DiMartino, Michael Dante & Konietzko, Bryan (September 19, 2006). Unaired pilot commentary. Book 1: Water, Volume 5 DVD.
  28. Avatar: The Last Airbender—The Art of the Animated Series, page 146
  29. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan & Zwyer, Melchior (December 2, 2014). "Original Airbenders" commentary. Book Three: Change Blu-ray.

See also

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