The saqu is similar to a hawk in appearance but with a longer, broader beak. Mature saqu stand up to five metres tall and have wingspans in excess of ten metres. Their feathers are dark grey on their backs and light tan on their undersides. Due to their hollow, light bones, saqu rarely weigh more than five hundred pounds.
A saqu’s beak is long, sharp and somewhat broad. Each foot features three massive front talons and a rear talon, each as sharp as a knife. Saqu are strong and more agile in the air than their great size suggests, able to turn quickly and glide on thermal updrafts. On the ground they are clumsy.
At the top of a saqu’s head, a crest of long feathers lies low in a tight cluster. When saqu are hunting, mating, or protecting their young, their crest and tail stand up and spread like a fan. Their eyesight is excellent even in dim light, and they can spot prey as far as five miles away. Their well-developed hearing allows them to zero in on small prey hiding among the foliage.
Because of their size, saqu rarely soar like other birds of prey. Instead, they perch on cliffsides or midway up large trees and wait. They are extremely patient hunters and have been known to wait all day for a meal. Once they spot their prey, they descend upon their meal in seconds.
The saqu kills prey by using its talons and considerable weight to pin its prey to the ground and then pecking and tearing until the creature stops moving. It carries more difficult prey high into the air, tearing away with its beak all the while, before dropping the victim to its death.
Saqu prefer deer and mountain goats when food is abundant, as these put up the least struggle, although they are known for eating everything they can catch when prey is scarce. Saqu are known to attack travellers and are capable of carrying away an ogrun when hungry enough.
Saqu mate for life. When approaching a prospective mate for the first time, the male saqu, called a drake, flashes his splayed head and tail feather and flaps his wings. If the female, called a hen, approves, the drake hunts a meal for her. If the hen is satisfied, she bows her head to the drake and accepts him as her mate. If a mated drake is severely injured, another drake may use the same display and dance to claim the hen, attempting to kill the injured drake for a meal. If this attack is successful, the hen consumes her previous mate and bonds with the new drake. If a mated saqu dies, the survivor finds a new mate within a year or two.
Mated saqu build a shared nest, called a rook, high on a rocky precipice. The rook consists primarily of branches and leaves, but a saqu will use anything that will serve.
Hens lay between two and three eggs every two years. Mates share equally in caring for the young once they hatch. When the offspring are about three months old, the drake throws them out of the rook, either to plummet to their death or to fly and live. There's no more parental care once young saqu leave the nest.
Saqu rarely battle each other. When a significant threat moves into their territory, saqu band together to drive away or kill the invaders. Once they have dealt with the danger, the surviving saqu return to their pairs.
Saqu are attracted to shiny objects and have been known to carry away polished shields and weapons and travellers adorned with more gemstones than sense.