By examining birds throughout each of the Legend of Zelda games, connections and parallels can be drawn between them to offer some insight into not only these winged animals’ role in the Zelda history, but also into the history itself. Particularly with the official timeline, an evolutionary path for different lines of birds can be drawn, showing how the winged beasts progressed throughout the series’ long history.
The Beginning of the Bird
Beginning with the earliest Legend of Zelda title, Skyward Sword, there is a heavy emphasis on birds to focus on already. Skyward Sword’s world is split into two mostly isolated areas, the sky and the earth. The sky, as one would imagine it to be, is filled with birds, although only one kind: large, tamed birds called Loftwings.
Loftwings are ridden by the people of Skyloft who inhabit the sky as well, and are used as transportation and as pets of sorts. They are seen as being divine gifts from the goddess Hylia, and are considered to become a part of the Skyloftian who connects with one, creating an inseparable bond. Despite their usefulness, Loftwings are unable to dive beneath the cloud barrier separating the sky from the earth. Because there are no other types of birds above the cloud layer, it is assumed that the smaller birds that live on the earth are also unable to breach the barrier put in place by the goddess Hylia.
Inhabiting the earth are other species of birds, though none so great as the Loftwing. Chirris make their first appearance in Skyward Sword, and are in almost every Zelda game thereafter. A Chirri is the Legend of Zelda name for a typical small bird, most likely a song bird. They can be yellow, red, green, or blue in color, though the blue variety is rarer. Skyward Sword is the only game to give this group of birds a name, but from the similar appearance between Chirris and other small birds throughout the series, the relationship between them is undeniable.
Skyward Sword is also the first timeline appearance of a Guay, another bird that, similar to the Chirri, is named differently in different games, but it is very clearly the same bird. In the case of the Guay, it Is also known as a Crow, depending on which game you are playing. Typically in 3D home console games this bird is called a Guay, while in 2D or handheld Zelda games, it is a Crow. Regardless of its name, the Guay is a small to large sized black bird that flies around trying to damage Link.
Two other bird enemies exist in Skyward Sword: the Furnix and the Hrok. The first of the two spits out fireballs at Link, leaving its long tail exposed to be attacked. The Furnix is located primarily in the Ancient Cistern, which could offer some hint as to why it disappears from the timeline after this game. The Ancient Cistern is presumably never found again after Skyward Sword, as no other future dungeon really accurately resembles it. Perhaps under water somewhere there is a dungeon full of Furnixes just waiting to be rediscovered.
The aptly named Hrok flies around in circles, waiting to regurgitate a large boulder onto any unsuspecting prey it may find. It inhabits the Lanayru Desert which, by the time it is seen in a game again (in Ocarina of Time) has changed so drastically over the countless generations that it is impossible to discern why this bird, like many other aspects of the desert, had disappeared. Since no other birds that spit up boulders exist elsewhere in the Zelda universe, it is assumed that the Hrok’s evolutionary line ended somewhere in the Lanayru Desert after Skyward Sword and before Ocarina of Time.
Other than the Chirri and the Guay, all other birds from Skyward Sword mysteriously vanish after this game, but no disappearance is more mysterious than that of the Loftwing. The Loftwing was such a huge part of the Skyloftian’s life, although it can be assumed that when most of them moved from Skyloft to the earth, that Loftwings became less necessary to survive. It is possible that Hylia took them back since they were no longer needed, or perhaps the Loftwings still exist up in the sky, just in a different form.
Minish Cap was somewhat similar to Skyward Sword in that there was an emphasis placed on the sky and the air, and the need to traverse through it. Rather than using birds to accomplish this though, Minish Cap supplied Link with the Roc’s Cape. However, a Chirri is discovered during the game named Zeff, who acts as a warping tool, taking Link instantly to different locations on the world map. Similar to the rarer and more magical blue Chirris of Skyward Sword, Zeff is also blue.
A series staple bird makes its first appearance in Minish Cap as well. The Cucco, essentially the Legend of Zelda’s version of a chicken, has appeared in almost every title so far. Since Minish Cap represents the earliest version ofan established Hyrule we have seen, and the Cuccos were absent from Skyward Sword, it would seem that these chicken-like creatures began being bred and domesticated shortly before Minish Cap.
The Minish Cap also gives us our first look at a bird descended from another. While Minish Cap does contain Crows, it also has a second deviation from a Guay: the Takkuri. Nearly identical to the Guay, the Takkuri is a medium sized black bird that waits hidden for Link to walk by, then flies out to ambush him. The only difference between these birds and the Guay is that instead of damaging Link, they prefer to steal rupees from him. This could indicate human interference with certain Guays, training them to steal rupees from passersby, as it is seen in Majora’s Mask that human/Takkuri interaction is not unknown.
In Four Swords, there is not a lot of fowl to be found, but there are small birds seen flying around in the Sea of Trees, indicating that Chirris are still around. However, that is the extent of the birds seen in this game.
Some centuries after Four Swords, the events of Ocarina of Time take place, and while this game is the apex of the entire timeline, splintering it into three different streams, it does not offer a ton in the way of progression of birds. Both Cuccos and Guays have survived, but the Takkuri is absent. A new kind of bird is introduced instead, in the form of a helper: the owl, Kaepora Gaebora.
Owls are stereotypically very wise creatures, and the Legend of Zelda only furthers that opinion of them. Kaepora Gaebora is something of a guide to Link in Ocarina of Time, helping him to get to where he needed to go, or else filling him in on the historical details of Hyrule. He is later shown to be Rauru the Light Sage in physical form, as he is trapped in the Light Temple in the Sacred Realm. Regardless of his back story, Kaepora Gaebora is one of the most interesting birds of the series.
Fowl in the Downfall
In of the three timelines created by Ocarina of Time, Link is killed in his battle with Ganondorf, leading into the events of A Link to the Past sometime far in the future. In A Link to the Past, it is seen that the likes of Chirris, Cuccos, and Guays have managed to survive despite Link’s death. In addition, a new breed of domesticated bird is seen for the first time: duck. The duck plays an integral role in A Link to the Past; whenever Link plays on the Flute Boy’s Ocarina (because that’s what it is), the boy’s pet duck will swoop down and carry Link around the world, very similarly to Zeff from Minish Cap
Two new enemy birds appear for their only appearance on the Downfall timeline, posing possibly the biggest mystery of any of the birds. The Pengator is exactly what it sounds like – a cross between a penguin and an alligator. It is only found in the Ice Palace, and slides around on the ice to damage Link. The other new bird, the Vulture, is pretty much just that. Living exclusively in the Desert of Mystery, they perch atop cacti and circle around Link when he approaches, similar to vultures in real life. Since no other adventure takes place after A Link to the Past on its timeline in a Hyrule even slightly resembling the one seen in this game, it makes sense for the Pengator and Vulture tonever be seen again, but the real mystery is in their other joined appearance on a completely different timeline.
After A Link to the Past, Link travels to Labrynia and Holodrum to train and improve his skills in the Oracles games. While there, he discovers that Cuccos, Chirris, Crows, and even Takkuri existed outside of Hyrule. He also discovers another special variety of Chirri, the Know-It-All Birds, who can talk and help Link on his adventures. Assuming that the Takkuri is just a Guay who has been trained, or is descended from Guays who were trained, to steal rupees from passersby, it would seem to indicate that either people from Labrynia and Holodrum learned to work with Guays on their own, or Hyrule had contact with these lands at some point in their respective pasts.
After his overseas adventures Link heads back to Hyrule, but is pulled into the Wind Fish’s dream in Link’s Awakening. Since this game takes place entirely in the Wind Fish’s imagination, the implications from the birds found on Koholint Island do not stretch beyond this game. That being said, the inclusion of Cuccos, Guays, and Takkuri could indicate that Link influenced the Wind Fish’s reality with his own imagination, bringing in birds from his past mixed in with those created by the Nightmare.
Seagulls make their first appearance, with this being the first beach setting in a Zelda game. Parallels are often drawn between seagulls and Marin, Link’s savior and romantic interest throughout the game. She is heard wishing that she could become a seagull, and depending on how well you have played through the game, you could be rewarded with a cutscene after the credits hinting that Marin really did get to become a seagull.
Another owl, this time unnamed, appears in Link’s Awakening in the same capacity as Kaepora Gaebora did in Ocarina of Time. Much like Kaepora Gaebora who was a physical manifestation of Rauru’s spirit, the owl in Link’s Awakening is eventually revealed to be the Wind Fish’s spirit helping Link to awaken him. While not definitive, this could indicate that owls are not naturally occurring species in the Legend of Zelda series, and instead exist only as a common manifestation of a wise and kind spirit.
Link’s Awakening is also home to the very first bird boss battle. Evil Eagle is one of the last bosses of the game, and is actually just the steed of the true boss, the Grim Creeper. However, it is the Eagle you have to worry about getting killed by as he swoops around trying to knock you off the tower. Being a creation of the Wind Fish’s Nightmare, the Evil Eagle has no relation to any other birds.
Whether or not Link ever makes it back to Hyrule remains a mystery, as the next game in the timeline takes place centuries after Link’s Awakening, after Hyrule has been all but destroyed from its former glory. In the original The Legend of Zelda title, there are literally no birds of any kind to speak of. Perhaps they were all wiped out in the same wars that brought Hyrule to its knees, but birds of the past never make a reappearance in the downfall timeline.
In The Adventure of Link, the world has yet to be repopulated by birds of any kind, save for some enemies. Two new bird baddies show up in the Great Palace, the final dungeon of the game. The Fokka and Fokkeru were never given English names, but are among the toughest enemies in the games. Capable of spitting fireballs similar to the Furnix, these species are unfortunately so far separated that any relation is very unlikely. The Thunderbird is the boss of the Great Palace and is notorious for being one of the toughest in the series. As the second of only a few bird bosses, it makes itself memorable by being incredibly difficult and having an awesome winged design. Where these three birds came from is uncertain, but their identities as some of Ganon’s most dangerous underlings are without doubt.
Feathers in the Child Timeline
Back in Ocarina of Time in an alternate timeline, Link manages to defeat Ganondorf and is sent back in time to reclaim his childhood, leading directly into Majora’s Mask. Aside from Cuccos and Guays, both of which appear in Termina, there is also a Takkuri which supplies the evidence for my theory that Takkuri are simply Guay which have been trained or bred to work with humans to steal. In Majora’s Mask, there is a lone Takkuri who will swoop down to steal rupees from Link, but can also steal either his sword or a bottle from his inventory, and the only way to retrieve them is to buy them back from the Curiosity Shop in Clock Town. It is unknown if the Takkuri is working with the Curiosity Shop Owner, or with Sakon the Thief, but whichever it is, it is clear this bird is not working alone in his thieving exploits.
Kaepora Gaebora the owl also reappears in Majora’s Mask, and is likely the same one from Ocarina of Time. It would make sense that Rauru the Light Sage would continue to watch over Link even after he stopped Ganondorf from ever rising to power, and following him to Termina to ensure his safety does not seem like too far of a stretch.
Hundreds of years later, Twilight Princess adds to the natural splendor of the game by incorporating other birds such as hawks and ducks into the environment. Hawks are able to be controlled by blowing a note through a reed, and ducks exist merely for ambience. Chirrirs, Cuccos, and Guays also make their very common return, as well as two new birds.
The Kargarok is a large predatory bird that will follow Link relentlessly until one of them is dead. They mostly inhabit Hyrule Field. Kargaroks that exist in the Twilight Realm, however, take on a very different form with a concave head and a pitch black body, and are known as Shadow Kargaroks. The Kargarok does not only exist in Twilight Princess, but in both of the games it appears in, its origin is unclear. It is highly possible that is a descendent of the Guay, grown larger and more vicious as the world did the same. With no other appearances on this timeline, what happened to this species over time is unknown.
Twlight Princess’ other bird race, the Oocca, are amongst the strangest creatures in the series. They appear as birds with humanoid faces, and are extremely intelligent, with an entire civilization above the clouds. There is mythology that credits them with the creation of Hyrule as well. Due to their close relationship to the goddess Hylia, their primary location on an island high up in the sky, and their bird-ish qualities, several parallels can be drawn between them and the Loftwings, who mysteriously remained unseen for millennia before the Oocca is first seen. While it is impossible to tell for sure what the relationship between the Loftwings and the Ooca is, or if there is one at all, it is my belief that though the Oocca may not be directly descended from the Loftwings, there was a time in the past when the two bird races had some interaction.
The final game on the Child Timeline, Four Swords Adventures, introduces two birds new to the timeline but not to this article: the Pengator and the Vulture. Both of these creatures are nearly identical in appearance, habitat, and behavior to their Link to the Past namesakes. In both Four Swords Adventures and A Link to the Past, there has been such a long time since the previous entry on the timeline that Hyrule is practically unrecognizable, indicating that there has been enough time for entirely new species of creature to show up. In addition, Four Swords Adventures and A Link to the Past are two of the only Zelda games which feature a fully powered Ganon/Ganondorf from the beginning of the game (the others being The Legend of Zelda and The Wind Waker). This could indicate that the Pengator and Vulture are creations of Ganon and are not evolutionarily connected to any other birds.
Other birds that appear in Four Swords Adventures are Cuccos, Chirris, and another owl called Kaepora Gaebora. While no true form of this Kaepora Gaebora is ever established, to assume that this is a true owl would seem to go against all other owls found in the series. Kaepora Gaebora from the Four Swords Adventures is very likely an alternate form of someone else helping Link, perhaps the spirit of Rauru again since this owl bears the same name as the Light Sage’s owl form.
Birds of Prey on the Great Sea
In the final timeline split from Ocarina of Time, Hyrule finds itself flooded and split into dozens of islands in the midst of a great sea. As a water filled world would indicate, there has been a decline in the amount of birds. The Guay is absent, as is the Chirri. However, seagulls make common appearances, and the Cucco has continued being domesticated. The Kargorok also make their first and only appearance on the Adult Timeline. Much like in Twilight Princess, the Kargarok is likely an evolutionary descendent of the Guay that has grown in size and ferocity due to a massively changed world; in this case the world has flooded, and in Twilight Princess, the world was much larger, more mature, and densely populated.
The Kargarok in Wind Waker is very similar to its Twilight Princess counterpart in all aspects, including appearance and attack. However, Wind Waker also has the Helmaroc King, a gigantic Kargarok who wears a creepy mask and is Ganondorf’s right hand bird. This gargantuan creature is also the series’ third and final bird boss to this day (doesn’t that seem like a low number? We need more bird bosses). It is also possible that Twilight Princess also features the Helmaroc King. By removing the Helmaroc King’s mask, it is clear that it is just an overgrown Karagarok. In Twilight Princess, an equally overgrown Shadow Kargarok is both battled and ridden in the Twilight Realm, showing that maybe if it wasn’t for the Twili attack on Hyrule, we may have seen a more similar version of this bird to Wind Waker’s king of the Kargaroks.
The final new bird introduced in The Wind Waker is the Rito, a race of humanoid birds who are both civilized and friendly. It is revealed in the game that the Rito are actually descendents of the Zora. The logic that a race of fish people would need to evolve into a race of bird people in order to survive in a world filled with water never made sense to me though, and so based on in game observations, I have made another theory as to the origin of the Rito.
In Ocarina of Time, the Zora worshiped Jabu Jabu, a large fish deity. In Wind Waker, Jabun is a large fish deity that resides beneath Outset Island, and is without any worshipers that we know of. Instead, the Rito now worship a large dragon deity, Valoo. While not every detail is available, it seems that at some point between OoT and WW, the Zora stopped worshiping Jabu Jabu (perhaps because of his inability to protect them from Ganondorf), and went to worship Valoo instead shortly after his appearance in Hyrule. In exchange for their worship, Valoo gave the Zora wings so that they might be closer to him in the sky, and they became the bird race Rito. All theory of course, but it is a more likely explanation than fish people evolving wings to survive in a water world. Since no other games take place in the Great Sea above Old Hyrule, the Rito are never seen again, and the truth about them must only be assumed.
In Phantom Hourglass, Link and Zelda find themselves in a parallel reality with Bellum and the Ocean King. Seagulls and Cuccos naturally appear here, and the Guay reappears after seemingly going extinct after Hyrule’s great flood. Joining the Guay in its return is the Takkuri. The fact that the Takkuri never appears in a title without being accompanied by the Guay reaffirms that they are the same bird, with only some of them having been trained to steal from travelers.
Spirit Tracks, taking place 100 years after Phantom Hourglass and on a never before seen continent called New Hyrule, surprisingly only adds one previously unknown bird to the mix, the dove, which primarily takes the seagull’s role in the last two games of flying around and adding atmosphere. However, if Link plays the Song of Birds on his Spirit Flute, a dove will fly over and land on Link’s head. Besides the dove, Cuccos, Guays, and Takkuris also inhabit New Hyrule.
Looking throughout the history of the bird in the Legend of Zelda series, it is clear where the identity of the bird stems from. The Guay (or Crow), appearing in almost every title on the timeline from beginning to end, is the source for most other bird enemies in the game, including the Takkuri and the Kargarok. In fact, other than monstrous creations by Ganon (such as the Pengator, the Vulture, and the Fokka family) and the birds found exclusively in Skyward Sword (the Furnix and Hrok), the Guay family represents every bird enemy found in the entire franchise. Even the Evil Eagle, though a figment of the Wind Fish’s imagination, bears several similarities to both the Helmaroc King and the Shadow Kargarok.
In terms of friendly birds, all the different varieties can be drawn back to either the Chirri or Loftwing of Skyward Sword. Ducks, hawks, seagulls, and doves could all have been different descendents from the Chirri, which comes in several variations, shapes, and colors throughout the entire series. Though highly theoretical, the Oocca could very likely have stemmed from the Loftwings. The owl, as already stated, is very likely not a true bird at all, but a physical form that wise spirits may use to communicate.
I hope that in the next Zelda games, wherever on the timeline they may fall, another bird boss is introduced, and that the minor birds used, whether they be friendly or aggressive, follow the timeline of the birds which I think is already almost perfectly laid out. Do you guys think there should be another bird boss introduced soon? I know I was shocked that there were only three out of the at least one hundred bosses over the course of the games that were birds. Would you like to see more bird enemies introduced, such as in Skyward Sword, or should we stick with the blueprint already laid out by the majority of the series? I would kind of like to see the Pengator return, as they were some of the more interesting looking and memorable enemies from A Link to the Past. Let’s hear whatever you have to say about the birds of the Legend of Zelda.