- "Flying beast that can sense danger, and create storms as it flies"
- — Description of the Thunderbird[src]
The Thunderbird was a large, magical avian beast native to North America, and most commonly found in Arizona in the southwestern United States. A close relative of the phoenix, the Thunderbird could create storms as it flied and was highly sensitive to danger. A House at Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was named after this creature.
The Thunderbird was described as having a head that was "similar to that of an eagle"; or, in the wizarding world, "similar to that of a Hippogriff". They possessed three pairs of powerful wings, and had feathers that shimmered with cloud-like patterns.
The Thunderbird was known to change colours as it summoned storms, its iridescent feathers shifting from various shades of gold to electrifying blue, to grey and silver, to white, and even to deep navy.
The Thunderbird could also sense danger and created storms as it flied.
Thunderbirds' tail feather could be used as a core in a magic wand, with this type of wand being difficult to master, but powerful and skilled in transfiguration work. They too were also able to sense danger, much like their donors, also being able to cast curses on their own.
Shikoba Wolfe, who was of Choctaw descent, was primarily famous for intricately carved wands containing Thunderbird tail feathers. Wolfe wands were generally held to be extremely powerful, though difficult to master. They were particularly prized by Transfigurers.
Around 1926, Albus Dumbledore told Newt Scamander about a Thunderbird captured by traffickers in Egypt. Newt rescued the bird, named him Frank, and travelled to America, intending to return him to his natural habitat in Arizona. He arrived in New York City via a muggle transatlantic passenger ship, hoping to avoid the attention of the MACUSA, due then current laws on private posession of Magical Creature.
Due to a large number of magical occurrences in New York City during Scamander's visit, culminating in the Obscurial attack on New York, he released Frank over the city, using the Thunderbird's weather related powers to create a large rainstorm laced with Swooping Evil venom. The diluted venom helped obliviate the population, allowing the MCUSA agents to more easily cover up the major potential Statute of Secrecy breach.
After his release, Frank flew under his own power and ultimately made it to Arizona.
- Thunderbird House at Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
- Weather-Modifying Charms
Behind the scenes
- "I wanted to have one thing that was quintessentially American, and the Thunderbird is. I feel a special kinship for birds. I loved Dumbledore's phoenix, and I wanted a bird in this film with its own mythology. When the thunder bird flaps its multiple wings, it creates storms, so it's a powerful, mythical creature"
- — J.K. Rowling on the Thunderbird
- The Thunderbird is a legendary creature which appears in the mythology of certain indigenous peoples of North America. It is especially prominent within the cultures of the Pacific Northwest and is frequently featured in their art, songs, and stories. Versions of the Thunderbird are also found in the traditions of peoples of the American Southwest, Great Lakes, and Great Plains regions of the continent. Accounts of the Thunderbird and its characteristics vary, but it is often described as a very large bird, capable of generating storms and thunder as it flies.
- Based on concept art in The Case of Beasts: Explore the Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and pop art commissioned from artist Andy Singleton for Pottermore, the Thunderbird may have different colour variations within the species. Based on similar birds of prey, such as the Bald Eagle, the Thunderbird may also have sexual dimorphism between males and females. The standard sexual dimorphism noted in Bald Eagles is that females tend to be about 25% larger than males.
- Based on historical accounts, and the widespread tales of large birds/"Thunderbirds" in Native American lore and mythology, the range of the Thunderbird once may have extended across the continental United States. In the folklore of the Penobscot and Abenaki tribes of Maine, there exists a legendary bird named "Pamola" (meaning "he curses on the mountain"), who was likely a Thunderbird. He was said to be a spirit that lived on the summit of Mount Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine, and "resented mortals intruding from below". Pamola was said to be "the god of thunder", and "the protector of the mountain". He was both feared and respected by the Penobscots and Abenakis, and his presence was one of the main reasons that climbing the mountain was considered taboo. Pamola was associated with causing "wind, snow, and storms"; caused "a noise like the whistling of a powerful wind" when flying; and was "large enough to carry off a moose". The legend of Pamola may have also been the inspiration for Chadwick Boot in naming House Thunderbird of Ilvermorny. Martha Steward II, the Squib daughter of Ilvermorny founders Isolt Sayre and James Steward, married a no-Maj of the Pocomtuc tribe, and may have been familiar with this story, or the mythical bird itself. Around 1754, the Pocomtuc tribe, due to the Seven Years' War, joined and merged with the Abenaki tribe. Many of the present-day Abenaki of New Hampshire, Vermont, and Canada are of part-Pocumtuc ancestry.
- Many schools and colleges in the United States and Canada use a Thunderbird as their mascot and symbol. Notable schools include Mesa Community College, located in the Thunderbird's native habitat of the Arizona desert, and the University of British Columbia.
- It is interesting to note that the Phoenix is the closest relative of the Thunderbird, as both birds are affiliated with the elements of fire and lightning respectively, both of which are forms of the fourth state of matter, plasma.
- The Thunderbird is also connected to the Phoenix in that they both have life renewing properties: while the Phoenix rejuvenates itself by burning and rising from its ashes in addition to the healing properties of its tears, the Thunderbird summons storms that bring life-giving rains to the deserts.
- Funnily enough, the Phoenix is the namesake of the State Capital of Arizona, Phoenix Arizona, which is part of the Thunderbird's native range and habitat.
- In Sioux, the Thunderbird is known by the name, Wakinyan, which translates to "thunder being" or "thunder spirits" in English. It is typically in reference to this legendary creature. Interestingly, the Sioux believed the Wakinyan to be the mortal enemy of the Unktehi, the Horned Serpent, which is the mascot of another house of Ilvermorny.
- Pottermore (First appearance)
- Wizarding World
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (film)
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2017 edition)
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay (Mentioned only)
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Dimensions
- LEGO Harry Potter
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery (Mentioned only)
Notes and references
- EW - Fantastic Beasts Creature Gallery: Thunderbird
- Pottermore - History of Magic in North America: 1920s Wizarding America
- Pottermore - Ilvermorny House: Thunderbird
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "1920s Wizarding America" at Wizarding World
- JK Rowling on Twitter
- "J.K. Rowling reveals her favourite 'Fantastic Beasts' creatures, writing characters" from SnitchSeeker.com
- "Thunderbird (mythology)" on Wikipedia
- Vetromile, Eugene. "The Abenakis and Their History". 1866. URL: <http://www.native-languages.org/penobscotstory2.htm>
- "Pocomtuc". Wikipedia. URL: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pocomtuc>
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