There are several different breeds and nesting locations found across our world. Most commonly seen species are:
Each of these species vary in size, plumage, weight and speed, among other smaller differences.
The 'Average' Hippogryph
(The term average is used to define common traits and characteristics amongst the diverse species of birds.)
Hippogryphs are large four legged creatures, with a pair of wings. The front portion or the head and 2/3rds of the torso resembles that of a raven or crow. While the hindquarter or rear 1/3rd is closer to a stag.
Atop the head are a pair of bone growth, commonly referred to as antlers. They protrude from the skull and typically grow up, outwards and are angled forward. Commonly used as weapons for aggression or defense, they have also been seen used as tools. It should be noted both genders grow these.
Below the antlers, a long, sharp beak set between yellow or green eyes. Hippogryphs have extremely keen vision. Able to spot small details or subtle movement from up to 500 feet (150 meters) while in flight. Though their range of color tends to be less vibrant than a Kaldoeri, it is significantly higher than a human. The beak is densely solidified and sharpened bone used for pecking or breaking objects, both aggressively and for defense. Along the length are two holes used for breathing during flight and dives.
The chest and neck area is often more pronounced and filled with feathers. This adds an extra layer of protection against attacks and defense, as well as an additional decoration of plumage for attracting a mate.
The front legs end in talons. Extending downwards into a four digit claw, three forward and one on the rear. Each can articulate and bend, able to close into a fist or lay flat. These are kept sharp and are often the Hippogryph's primary weapon of attack. The legs and talons tuck under the torso during flight to reduce wind resistance and increase speed.
The torso is the largest part of the Hippogryph, carrying the most weight and internal organs. Along with bone structure and skeleton. Note, the bones are semi-hollow, this reduces weight. However unlike normal birds, they still retain the strength required to support its mass while landing.
Above the front leg on either side of the torso are the Hippogryph wings. These are the longest parts of the animal. Generally a foot and inches longer than the animal is long and over double at full wingspan (combined lengths of wings). This is the animal's source of flight, providing lift and acceleration by flapping the lengths of the wing up and down. ((Fundamentals of Hippogryph flight can be explored later in headcanon pt 3.))
The wings are tucked to the body when not in use, a pivoting joint along the leading edge allows the wing to bend so they may keep a more compact form on the ground. This adds protection and cleanliness to the feathers, but also a way to intimidate predators by quickly appearing much larger when threatened.
The hindquarters of the Hippogryph resembles more to a stag or horse, in that the talons have been replaced by a pair of powerful legs and hooves. While these can be used for attacks and defense, they are primarily used for movement and speed. They are the second strongest muscles in a hippogryph structure next to the wings, as they are required to provide the forward momentum necessary to achieve flight. A Hippogryph will use their rear legs for quick movements and acceleration on the ground, as well as absorbing the impact of landing.
The tail is the final piece of the hindquarter. This thick braiding of hair provides a means of countering pests like flies and insects. Its primary utility is helping to provide yaw in flight. An experienced hippogryph will use it in tandem with wing motions to allow subtle course and heading corrections along with horizontal directional control.
Weight: 1600 - 2000 pounds
Length: 9 - 11 feet long
Height: 7 - 9 feet tall
Wingspan: 20 - 24 feet
Ground speed: 25 - 35 mph Sprinting: 45 - 55 mph
Air speed: 50 - 70 mph Diving: 120 - 130 mph
Winter and Spring Dark greens and teals
Summer Dark blues and lighter oranges
Fall Dark oranges and lighter blues
Nesting: Often in large trees offered by the forest, within trunks or branches capable of holding their weight. Rarely if ever seen on ground levels.
Diet: Elk, Deer or Spider.
Notes: Ashenvalen Hippogryphs are considered some of the fastest sprint species of their race. The clear skies above the forests provide them with long stretches of calm weather and empty air space that has helped them evolve to be stronger with larger wingspans than most of their cousin species. This comes at the cost of some maneuverability speed. At such speeds it is more difficult to bank and maneuver as tightly as their kin, forcing them to slow slightly around cliffs and mountainous terrain to keep the same agility.
Migratory note: It should be noted that over the years the Ashenvale species has moved further into Stonetalon and into Desolace. There are no significant changes between the locations and their species with the exception of seasonal feather color to match their environment.
Desolace note: One thing of particular uncertainty amongst many experts is those of the Desolace area. While mostly the same to a typical Ashenvalen Hippogryph they have developed an interesting and unconventional way of flight, seemingly appearing to use their talons instead of wings. As one has stated in the past, "Riding tiny bicycles in the air." It is unsure how this is accomplished. The common two theories are: an optical illusion brought on by the heat or the airflow being so dense around the druid groves makes it somehow fly in those areas like swimming.
Azshara (Winterspring) Hippogryph
Weight: 1400 - 1800 pounds
Length: 8 - 10 feet long
Height: 7 - 8 feet tall
Wingspan: 18 - 22 feet
Ground speed: 35 - 45 mph Sprinting: 55 - 60 mph
Air speed: 40 - 60 mph Diving: 110 - 120 mph
Winter and Spring Snowy white and faded brown
Summer Faded white, earthy browns and faded orange
Fall Pale white, crisp browns or orange near wing base and tips
Nesting: Cliff faces, along the Northern boundaries or eastern ocean. It provides safe nesting at higher or inaccessible pathing. Natural defense against predators. Note: Winter and spring nestings are often found in Winterspring.
Diet: Fish, Turtle and Naga. Spring / Winter - Bear, Boar, Elk
Notes: With the presence of vast cliff faces (and Wyverns) the Azshara Hippogryphs have developed slightly smaller than their cousin species to adapt for faster and tighter maneuvering. Capable of smaller, quicker turns at high speeds it makes them among some of the most maneuverable Hippogryphs.
Migratory notes: It should be noted that over the years (and invasive races) Azsharan Hippogryphs have transitioned into the Winterspring area for Winter and Spring seasons. This is the causation for their drastic color changes during that time as it helps blend in and adapt to the cold of the area.
Weight: 1500 - 1700 pounds
Length: 8 - 11 feet long
Height: 8 - 9 feet tall
Wingspan: 18 - 24 feet
Ground speed: 30 - 40 mph Sprinting: 40 - 55 mph
Air speed: 45 - 60 mph Diving: 105 - 115 mph
Year round Light blues mixed backwards towards wings with fading pinks and whites blending
Patriarchs Deep blues mixed with vibrant teal or trace pink along leading edge of wings
Rarity breed: Blue is replaced with pink hues, fading back to lighter purples and whites
Nesting: Large cliffs off the coast or high in the trees. Rarely seen on the forest floor, but have been known to.
Diet: Fish, Deer, on occasion Troll or Harpy
Notes: Feralas Hippogryphs are regarded as some of the best overall flyers of their cousins. Endurance, speed and maneuverability. While not top on each individual class, they excel at them all equally. Powerful flyers in tough conditions, endurance for longer flights coupled with speed and maneuverability makes them the most balanced of their cousins.
Howling Fjord Hippogryph
Weight: 1900 - 2200 pounds
Length: 10 - 12 feet
Height: 9 - 11 feet
Wingspan: 22 - 26 feet
Ground speed: 20 - 30 mph Sprinting: 35 - 50 mph
Air speed: 40 - 55 mph Diving: 100 - 110 mph
Winter and Spring Snowy white and brown
Summer Faded white, earthy browns
Fall Pale white, crisp browns near wing base and tips
Nesting: Cliff faces in the ravines, rarely on ocean edges and forest nestings
Diet: Boars, Spiders, Turkeys, Worg, Fish
Notes: Howling Fjord Hippogryphs are often considered the stockist species of bird. They are much larger compared to their cousins because of the harsh conditions and climate. They are often much more durable because of this as well, capable of withstanding injuries that would stable another species for weeks. With their size, they are among some of the most docile birds, often to conserve energy during periods of flightless weather or limited food winters. This is not to say they are lazy or sloth, more focused on motion when needed and survival.
Teldrassil Hippogryph (Endangered)
Weight: 1700 - 1900 pounds
Length: 7 - 10 feet
Height: 8 - 11 feet
Wingspan: 18 - 24 feet
Ground speed: 30 - 40 mph Sprinting: 55 - 60 mph
Air speed: 45 - 60 mph Diving: 105 - 110 mph
The plumage of a Teldrassil hippogryph is static as it stays a deep purple from maturity onwards. The seasonal change is near unnoticeable outside of shades becoming slightly darker or lighter.
Nesting: Forest, atop trees or into the branches or trunk of Teldrassil itself. Often alongside Darnassian residents.
Diet: Spiders, Deer, Fish
Notes: Teldrassil Hippogryphs are fiercely territorial and loyal to the people they share the land with, the Kaldoeri. Often taking an instant aggression towards those who do not offer proper greeting or encroach on their territory. They are powerful close range combatants, possessing a near berserk like frenzy when threatened. An unshakable loyalty to the Night Elf people and will often be found at their side in any conflict.
Endangered note: With the recent loss of their homeland, the species has become endangered. Their numbers were modest before, however they have been dwindling as of late. Because of the inherent Hippogryph pride and Teldrassil species territorial awareness, cross breeding has proven difficult if not entirely impossible.
Weight: 1600 - 1800 pounds
Length: 9 - 12 feet
Height: 7 - 9 feet
Wingspan: 18 - 22 feet
Ground speed: 35 - 45 Sprinting: 50 - 60
Air speed: 45 - 55 Diving: 100 - 110 mph
The plumage of a Suramar Hippogryph is often a subject of debate. As seen from surroundings areas, they often develop a teal green mixed with yellow hues. However due to the area of Suramar being 'contaminated' with latent magical overflow the hippogryph's of the area have adopted a permanent purple arcane sheen. Their talons seem to glisten and have become a darker, near midnight black.
Nesting: Old ruins or what scare forest is available
Diet: Spiders, Deer, Wretches
Notes: Suramar Hippogryphs have developed a high resistance to magical alignments and elements. Due to their high exposure to the Nightwell. This has made them highly sought after for their feathers, antlers and talons for magical resistant apparel. This change however has made them extremely elusive and hard to catch as they avoid most physical traps by utilizing a similar spell to a mage's 'blink' (a short teleportation spell) and simply shrug off most magical means of restraint. It should also be noted, these magic abilities are highly strenuous on the animal when a passenger is present, as it has to use mana for both self and passenger.