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"Have You Ever Seen A Funnier Looking Bird?"

- Elves' First Opinion of the Runner

Brief History: The runners have only been a part of DesertWinds for a little more then one hundred years. They were discovered while the tiny tribe was wandering the desert. Drec and his Lifemate Cerea decided to take a few young ones and train them. They have turned out to be a valuable asset to the tribe.

Appearance: How does one explain these strange creatures the elves ride. Runners are part of the bird family. They are slightly larger then an ostrich. Like the ostrich they are flightless. Instead of wings they have small arms with two fingers, that are almost useless. Their legs are strong and powerful. They have two large toes, that make it easier to walk on the sand. Another strange feature of this bird is that it has a tail, kind of like a raptor, for balancing it's body when it runs. It almost seems like this birds ancestors took a different route then the regular birds. They have kept a lot of the dinosaur ancestor looks. A hawk-like head sit upon a long, slender neck. Except for the arms, legs and tail, the rest of the bird is covered in sand colored feathers. The male runner has a crown of brilliant blue feathers.

Social: The runner lives in family units headed by a matriarch. The family unit consists of the females and young. The unit is a very tight group, not taking well to new members. Unless it is mating season the females will attack any mature males if they try to get to close. There is no set mother, every runner helps care of the young. It's not uncommon to see a runner feeding a baby that is not hers. When a matriarch steps up to her rank, the first female runner she hatches is the princess. This is the only time that any runner is recognized as having a certain mother. When the princess has grown up she may either go off and start her own unit or challenge her mother to leadership. Male runners live in bachelor groups, after being chased out of the unit at adulthood, they have no leader. The only time the male and females come together is for the mating season.

Mating: Every spring the runners gather in the nesting field to lay their eggs. The males are the first ones to go there. They work long hours to build mounds of dirt. They literally use their own spit to hold the whole thing together. A few days later the unit will show up at the nesting sites. The female pick their mate by the look of the nest and the dance of the male. Once mating is over the female will lay a single egg in the depression of the mound. Once laid the egg must be kept warm, but the runners body is too big to do the job, so the runner will pile palm leaves on top of it. The decomposition of the leaves helps keep the eggs warm. The male goes back to the bachelor group afterwards. The egg itself is a bright blue in color and about the size of an ostriches egg. It takes three weeks for the egg to hatch. During the waiting time the female runners will move about the mounts making sure each one is covered enough. This is another example of the no one mother rule. When the young hatch they are able to get up and run within a half an hour. They are covered in a brown down that is spotted with black.