Eastern Kingdoms, particularly the far north
Dragonhawks are vicious flying predators native to the far north of the Eastern Kingdoms. They are swift and deft aerial predators, able to crack bones and pierce hides with their mighty beaked jaws. Majestic and magnificent creatures, dragonhawks and their riders, resplendent in lacquered dragon hide armor, make an impressive sight.
As native creatures to Quel'thalas, the Dragonhawks were first tamed by the indigenous Amani trolls. They were later discovered by the Highborne exiles and would become an integral part of Quel'dorei society. Known as deadly predators and highly sought out for by companionship by hunters, Dragonhawks will zero in on their target and with deadly accuracy rend their target with their razor-sharp talons and beaks.
Since their companionship with the elves of Quel'thalas, the Dragonhawks have been trained for aerial combat. Much has been seen with a type of windriders called Dragonhawk Riders. Others have retired or have been trained to carry individuals to one location to another - as seen in flight paths.
Habitat and Behavior
Dragonhawks prefer a temperate climate. Forested regions in the far north of the continent such as Quel'thalas, Zul'Aman, and the Hinterlands provide an excellent home for Dragonhawks. Dragonhawks build their nests both in trees and on the ground, but typically prefer higher elevations to nest in. A Dragonhawk raptor could carry away a full grown man - on its back, or in its mouth. These hawk-like creatures are impressive. Its feathers show brilliant streaks of color on its wings and tail, but its most remarkable feature is its head, which seems like a combination of an hawk and a dragon. Its strong beak gleams wickedly. Straight, colored horns that match its plumage sprout from the beast's head.
Dragonhawk behavior typically depends upon their breed. Hawks raised in captivity have a more docile and cooperative nature, whereas wild breeds exhibit great ferocity and wrangling one is a challenge. Some Dragonhawks are known to exhibit pyromantic abilities. In a manner very similar to an actual Dragon, some Dragonhawks may be capable of spewing flames from their beaks. This behavior is not observed in all Dragonhawks and certain breeds may be more adept.
Dragonhawks are omnivores, so mixing meat feed with some fruits like apples and pears will do for a balanced meal. Although omnivorous, dragonhawks are primarily hunters, and prefer meat. They will pursue prey if the option is available. If one does not think they are eating enough, breeders do make a special blend of rolled oats, dried fruit that one can mix with a little water and meat feed of choice. Works well on upset hawk stomachs.
The meat is dry aged a couple of days, just less of a mess when it comes to feeding. Meat longer than a week for them, however... To much dry age can damage their stomachs, even though for consumers like the Sin'dorei can enjoy beef or venison dry aged for well over 21 days.
Dragonhawks tend to be finicky when looking for partners. Especially for breeding. While most think they are a polygamous species in the wild – to aid in protecting nests and to raise numbers. They tend to lend towards monogamous mating in captivity due to the longevity of their life and with aided outside influences – much like breeders. So the females tend to be a little more stubborn when accepting a male to bond with.
Over millennia, Dragonhawks have developed into a wide and diverse array of breeds and subspecies, some developing in the wild, others being cultivated by selective breeding. The known ones are listed here:
Golden Dragonhawks are by far the most common brood of Dragonhawk. Commonly found all across Quel'thalas as well as a handful of other locations across Azeroth. Golden dragonhawks were once prized by dragonhawk breeders in Silvermoon. They stand out at night to predators, making it necessary to gain awareness at an early age. Golden Dragonhawks are commonly used in warfare as hunter pets and attack animals. They are naturally skittish creatures, and require a gentle touch when handling them. Once bonded to a companion however, they are considered loyal creatures until the end, and remain the most commonly used Dragonhawk in Quel'thalas.
Red Dragonhawks are favored as mounts by the Dragonhawk Riders of Silvermoon. A common enough breed of Dragonhawk, Red Dragonhawks are the middle child of the three most common breeds. Red Dragonhawks are known to be mortal enemies with silver dragonhawks but are on pretty good terms with golden dragonhawks, demonstrating a rivalry between broods. Red Dragonhawks are best known for bravery and are not shy of confrontation, much like their silver dragonhawk enemies.
As the rarest of the three common broods, Silver Dragonhawks have long been seen as the rich man's mount. The silver brood are a ferocious species of dragonhawk, often seen diving down on prey from high in the sky. These qualities make them highly sought after by trainers and are quickly singled out from the flock, known for their inherent ferocity and wariness towards those who are not their caretakers.
Unlike the other breeds, Blue Dragonhawks are not found in the wild. Their blue plumage is a result of selective breeding from other Dragonhawk species, and are always raised from captivity. This selective breeding has had the side effect of leaving Blue Dragonhawks as poor fire-breathers. Due to this rearing by trainers, the Blue dragonhawk is viewed as an excellent 'beginner's Dragonhawk,' and are known for their docile nature and friendly dispositions, making them valued as pets by hunters and civilians alike.
Amani Dragonhawks are a rare brood of Dragonhawk found only in the great forest of Zul'Aman. Clad in unusual green and violet plumage, Amani Dragonhawks have adapted a natural camouflage to their forest surroundings and are the apex ambush predators among Dragonhawks. Amani Dragonhawks can often be seen with their tails wrapped around trees, disguised as hanging branches until prey comes by. The Amani Dragonhawk population is tightly controlled by the Amani Tribe of trolls and will go to great lengths to keep any non-troll from obtaining one. Amani Dragonhawks are gifted fire-breathers as well, perhaps owing to the influence of the Dragonhawk Loa Jan'alai.
Phoenix-Hawks are an exceptionally rare species of Dragonhawk known for their beautiful and vibrant plumage of red, purple and magenta. Owning to their colors and rarity, Phoenix-Hawks have long been traditionally seen as royal mounts used by the forces of the royal house of Sunstrider. Swift and unerring, these brightly-colored Dragonhawks are exceptional fliers, carrying their riders through harsh storms and turbulent conditions safely, making them highly sought after as mounts. Phoenix-Hawks have sharp eyes, capable of spotting prey or deception from very long distances. Phoenix-Hawks display great pyrokinetic abilities beyond breathing fire, and are capable of creating fiery vortexes from the beat of their wings.
The Black Dragonhawk is the rarest of all Dragonhawk species. Possessed of midnight-black plumage and bright orange eyes, Black Dragonhawks are cunning and dangerous predators, especially at night. Black Dragonhawks are not a true subspecies of Dragonhawk, but rather an anomaly born from any other Dragonhawk brood. All attempts by breeders to selectively reproduce the black coloration have failed, meaning the Black Dragonhawk will likely remain the rarest breed.