- Peter Fane
A note on Bull-throated fen-singers . . .
BULL-THROATED FEN-SINGER (“Swamp Sprite;” also “Bog Singer,” “Frog Dragon,” or “Croaker.”) The bull-throated fen-singer is found exclusively in Dávanor’s equatorial lowlands. Because of their unique social organization, these small dragons cannot be trained into messenger service. Singer broods – also known as “choirs” – can be domesticated, but this should be done solely for the purposes of entertainment. Ancient records do exist of attempts made to utilize entire choirs as couriers and interceptors during the reign of Katherine the Second; these experiments were disastrous. Singers live in medium-large “choirs.” Choirs will consist of four to five males, nine to twelve females, and associated young. Foaling, when it takes place, always begins in the early spring. Singer nests consist of mud-built “lofts” in swamps, fens, or shallow lakes, usually near shore. Lofts are always built above the water, but with easy access to it. Two or three deeper tunnels leading to underwater sally ports are typical. Singers’ social structure is unique among Dávanor’s small dragon breeds. When the population of a loft has reached maximum capacity, usually about forty to fifty individuals, females will cease ovulation. The population of the resulting choir will therefore remain stable for long periods of time, typically ten to fifteen years. It is during these “rests,” that singers give evidence of their most unique and characteristic abilities. After a rest period, dominant males will leave the original loft with a select group of females to establish a new choir. As their names suggest, singers are incredibly vocal. They are also extraordinarily intelligent. When combined with the stable social structure of singers’ choirs, the result is a dazzling array of songs, hymns, chants, and choruses. The formal classification system for singers’ songs was developed during the reign of Katherine the Second by Eren Mactyré, a Davanórian biologist working out of the University of Konordun’s southern campus near Fletcherdun. The Mactyré Index organizes and ranks songs by region on the basis of originality, harmony, length, volume, melody, tempo, complexity, and emotional expressiveness. (This final category has caused no end of trouble for aestheticians and musicologists, the infamous rivalry – and subsequent duel – between Stefan Deves of Dávanor and Jen Robans of Genonea being only the most well-known.) Because of the incredible beauty of singers’ music, domesticated choirs of these little dragons are carefully cultivated and highly prized by Dávanor’s southern nobility. Singers are omnivores, with a preference for plants. They eat water weeds, shore reeds, as well as associated seeds and roughage. They will eat small fish, frogs, minnows, and smaller birds, but this is rare. Singers are particularly fond of kernel maize, sliver almonds, and door nuts. Those who live within singers’ habitat will have no trouble attracting these little dragons, if they are willing to stock a feeder with such delicacies. Typical colors: green, brown, pale blue, and tan. Scales are so small as to be unnoticeable; this gives singers a smooth, glossy appearance regardless of color. Typical wingspan: (f) 1-2 palms [ca. 7.5-15 cm]; (m) 2-3 palms [ca. 15-22 cm] Typical length: (f) 1-2 palms [ca. 7.5-15 cm]; (m) 2 palms [ca. 15 cm] Typical lifespan: (f) 25-35 years; (m) 30-40 years Horned? No. Crested? No. Toothed? No. Venomous? No. This text was adapted from my field notes with some references made to Katherine II's "The Smaller Dragons of Davanor. A Preliminary Taxonomy" (F.Y. 190). Illustration is by High Lady Milica Celikovic.