Blackfowl are small avian creatures native to Palpis VI. Despite their name, blackfowl are renowned for their vibrant, multicolored feathers, particularly among the male of the species. When cooked, the meat of the bird turns a deep black color, giving the blackfowl its name.
While the largest blackfowl on record stood at a height of 22 centimeters, most are between 9-16 centimeters tall. This, combined with the difficulty of skinning them, their unpleasant texture, and the unappetizing color of the meat, has kept them from becoming a major food source. This did not keep them from being exported to other planets in large numbers however, as their use as game animals to be hunted for sport enjoyed some popularity with the Amarr royalty.
Eventually, blackfowl became a source of food for slaves and the lowest of commoners.
Distribution and Habitat
Originally, the blackfowl inhabited the Arad continent of Palpis VI, though they can now be found throughout the Empire and the Republic on almost all inhabited planets in some number. They make nests on the ground in caves and low-lying marshy areas and bogs.
Naturally, blackfowl fly in flocks numbering in the hundreds, though their flocks tend to hover around thirty where they are used as game animals. These short, plump birds were mistaken for mammals at first, due to the rodent-like appearance of their face and the fact that it has a mouth instead of a beak. Their short bat-like ears are extremely sensitive to sound, and hearing is the blackfowl's primary sense, though they do not use ultra-sonic echolocation. They stand on two legs with three fore-talons and a smaller back talon. There is an additional talon about halfway up each leg.
The blackfowl's tail is a large fan of red feathers. Their wings are large, and the feathers sport intricate patterns in vivid colors, though the female of the species tends be larger and duller than the males, with many females predominantly displaying drabber earth-tone coloring. The wings of both the male and the female are largely ornamental, as they are incapable of sustained flight. The wings do provide enough lift-off capability to launch the blackfowl into the air and carry it up to several meters in both height and distance.
Their skin is thick and soft, having the consistency of fat, and their muscle tissue is extremely oily.
Blackfowl reproduce as most other avian creatures do, with the male supplying fertilization to a female who then lays eggs. The blackfowl take turns watching the eggs until they hatch, usually within about three to four weeks. Blackfowl mate for life, and will reproduce only once a year, with the female laying between three to six eggs.
While many find the extremely oily texture of the meat unappealing, blackfowl can now be found in many trendy restaurants in the Empire, broiled in the traditional way of the slaves. It has almost completely fallen out of use in the Republic, though it is the traditional food served during many Starkmanir festivals.
Despite the beauty of blackfowl feathers, the difficulty of obtaining them due to the texture of their skin has ensured their use has remained limited. Blackfowl feathers can be seen as decoration during the Starkmanir festival of Khu-Arzad. For a brief time, the Gallente fashion industry also made use of their feathers, after the introduction of treating live blackfowl with Sokavali Solution. Animal activists groups eventually succeeded in banning this practice within the Federation.