Terror bird

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Terror bird
Axe beak
A terror bird.
Ice runner

Source: The Frozen Stars, pg(s). 40

A terror bird, also called an axe beak,1 is an aggressive, flightless bird which possess a fierce hunger for meat. Able to keep up with a horse on foot, terror birds are fearsome predators.23


A terror bird resembles a predatory ostrich. It stands atop two powerful, muscular legs that comprise much of its height, each of which ends in a set of three-toed feet tipped in sharp talons. Its broad body is covered in large feathers and bears two stubby wings that clearly could not support such a large bird in flight. Its head, positioned at the end of an elongated neck, bears a large, sharply pointed beak.3

A terror bird stands at least 7 feet tall, and despite their speed these creatures can weigh upwards of 500 pounds.2


The charge of a terror bird is so fast and effective that it can knocks an opponent off their feet.2 Its long beak can rip through flesh, and it can knock over an opponent with its talons.3

Habitat and ecology

Temperate plains and vast, warm grasslands are the natural home of the terror bird. Here they compete with large cats and packs of wolves and big cats to be the area's top natural predator (a title oft claimed by distinctly less than natural creatures).4

Terror birds tend to form small hunting packs of up to six birds when roaming the grasslands, but the females nest together in greater numbers in huge nesting areas. Terror birds normally lay clutches of up to five eggs which take around two months to hatch. There are many different species of terror bird each varying in size, colouration, and build.[citation needed]

Terror birds, despite their aggressive and highly territorial nature, are highly suited to being trained as mounts, beasts of burden, or guard animals, as they are highly intelligent.2 They are also sometimes taken as animal companions.5[citation needed]


Terror shrikes, also known as scythe beaks, are larger and more powerful terror birds that often lead flocks of their lesser kin. They can emit a fearsome screech that terrifies creatures who hear it.3

At up to 7 feet tall, diatrymas—also known as dagger beaks—are smaller but still ferocious variants of terror birds distinguished by their small orange beaks and dark feathers. They are most prevalent in arid regions.3

A larger, stronger variant of the terror bird known as the ice runner inhabits the distant planet Triaxus. Ice runners stand 10 feet tall and weigh over 500 pounds, with black and white feathers. Ice runners are boreal creatures, supernaturally resistant to cold but vulnerable to fire. They are very aggressive and live in packs.6

On Golarion

Wild terror birds are known to inhabit the eastern Carpenden Plains of Andoran7 and the Nesmian Plains of southern Nirmathas.8 Domesticated terror birds are used as mounts in Absalom alongside camels, due to the local centaur population's hatred of equines.9


For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.

  1. Paizo Inc., et al. “Monsters A to Z” in Bestiary 3, 29. Paizo Inc., 2011
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Jason Bulmahn & F. Wesley Schneider. Axe Beak” in Bonus Bestiary, 7. Paizo Inc., 2009
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Paizo Inc., et al. “Monsters A-Z” in Bestiary 3, 264. Paizo Inc., 2021
  4. Paizo Inc., et al. “Monsters A-Z” in Bestiary 3, 26. Paizo Inc., 2021
  5. Paizo Inc., et al. “Appendix 7: Animal Companions” in Bestiary 3, 311. Paizo Inc., 2011
  6. Matthew Goodall. “The Frozen Stars” in The Frozen Stars, 40. Paizo Inc., 2013
  7. Tim Hitchcock & Jason Nelson. “Bestiary” in Andoran, Birthplace of Freedom, 49. Paizo Inc., 2015
  8. Crystal Frasier. “The Nesmian Plains” in Trail of the Hunted, 65. Paizo Inc., 2017
  9. Owen K.C. Stephens. “Places” in Guide to Absalom, 19. Paizo Inc., 2008

External links

  • Diatryma (real-world genus of extinct animals) on Wikipedia
  • Paraphysornis (real-world genus of extinct animals) on Wikipedia