The Brutornis is a tall, pale-colored phorusrhacid from the lowland plains of Skull Island. It measures 6-7 feet tall to the hip.
The largest of Skull Island’s flightless avian carnivores, Brutornis is an impressive predator that runs down prey in the open scrublands. With keen sight, the phorusrhacid can detect small movements in the grasses that betray small prey hidden below. The huge, adze-like bill is driven by powerful muscles and exerts a bite terrible enough to kill most prey with a single chomp.
Brutornis nest on the edges of the grassy areas, where their eggs remain concealed but the open ground permits the parent a view of potential threats. Mothers show intense vigilance in protecting their eggs, going without food for up to a month during incubation to remain at the nest. Chicks have camouflaged plumage for hiding and follow their mother when she hunts, until old enough to fend for themselves.
Cunning Lycaesaurus have developed tactics to lure Brutornis mothers off their valuable eggs. Conspicuously approaching the nest to catch the bird’s eye, one Lycaesaurus will act as a decoy, luring the protective mother off her clutch while the other raids the unattended nest. A valuable protein source, the melon-sized eggs are worth the risk of teasing such a dangerous larger predator. The decoy individual has to judge its lead carefully: if it goes too far the Brutornis might abandon pursuit to return to her eggs, too close and the ploy can turn to disaster; the would-be egg thieves becoming dinner for the starving bird.