The messenger hawk is a moderately-sized raptor that can be used to transport message scrolls carried in canisters tied to their backs, with different colored ribbons used to indicate the importance or intended receiver. These hawks are regularly used to deliver messages throughout the Fire Nation, its colonies, and the Earth Kingdom, and can be bought at post offices, such as the one located in Fire Fountain City, which have large roosting towers for the birds.
The Fire Nation used these birds extensively in the Hundred Year War to effectively communicate from the battlefield to the mainland.
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.
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.
Sokka purchased a messenger hawk, which he subsequently named Hawky, after he, Toph, and Aang won a large amount of money scamming through the use of rigged betting games. Hawky was sent to deliver a message to Toph's mother and father.
After the Hundred Year War, the usage of the messenger hawk spread to the other nations. Yee-Li, an Earth Kingdom resident, sent a hawk to contact the members of the Official Avatar Aang Fan Club in Yu Dao.
Messenger hawks are moderately-sized birds of prey. Their feathers are primarily buff-colored on the belly and underside of the wings and tail, but a darker reddish-brown on its back and top.
Its wings are relatively broad and about twice the length of its body. The flight-feathers are a shade of brown in between those of the body. The tail is broad and fan-shaped.
Its head is 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.
Tamed messenger hawks have a calm temperament, and, if properly trained, are able to deliver messages to almost anywhere. They are known to be loyal to their owners. They also seem to know the importance of their jobs and are regarded as more intelligent than other birds in the Fire Nation. They are used by both the Fire Nation government and ordinary civilians for their message-carrying ability.
Messenger hawks can be connected to homing pigeons, particularly carrier pigeons. Prior to the invention of the telegraph and radio, carrier pigeons were frequently used in battlefields as a means of mobile communication.
These birds are capable of delivering messages to one single location, or their "home". However, unlike the pigeons, messenger hawks appear to 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.
- Zuko was originally slated to have a messenger hawk as a pet which was supposed to have a rivalry with Momo.
- Post offices in the Fire Nation offer messenger hawk training classes for three copper pieces.
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