Caterbirds hatched, fully grown, from cocoons hanging in lullabee groves. Many caterbird cocoons, some hatched and some not, were found on Lullabee Island. A caterbird was bound to watch over and protect the life of anyone who witnessed their hatching, but they were occasionally reluctant to do so. The cocoons were woven by caterworms and could hang dormant for lifetimes before hatching. The hatching of a caterbird was an extremely rare event, occurring only once in a hundred years, or longer. The cocoons themselves were glittery, broad, and bulbous. They felt silky soft and smelled sweet and spicy. Those who slept in them dreamed the special dreams of caterbirds, which could give mental healing and wisdom.
Caterbirds were very large and strong with great wingspans, able to fly normally while easily holding smaller creatures such as fourthlings in their talons. Their eyes were purple and their bill was black and hooked. Most of their feathers were black, but their tail feathers were striped black and white. They had a long neck, a black beard, and a ridge crest that extended upwards in a curve behind their head.
Role in the Edge Chronicles
In the Quint Trilogy
In the Twig Trilogy
In Beyond the Deepwoods, Twig was present at the hatching of a caterbird. It immediately saved him from being eaten by a skullpelt, as it was bound to do. Later in the book it saved him when he was falling off of the Edge cliff, and it brought him to the Stormchaser. In Stormchaser the same caterbird was kept in a cage in Flabsweat’s pet shop in Undertown. It told Twig the story of the crisis situation in Undertown and Sanctaphrax in exchange for being set free. At the end of Stormchaser it landed on the Edgedancer and told Twig that his father had been carried far out beyond the Edge into Open Sky by the Great Storm. At the beginning of Midnight Over Sanctaphrax it led the Edgedancer to the weather vortex that Cloud Wolf was inside, but the rage-inducing mind-warping effects within the vortex caused Twig to cut the rope attaching the caterbird to the Edgedancer.
In the Rook Trilogy
In The Last of the Sky Pirates, Rook saw a caterbird flapping across the sky in the distance while flying over the Free Glades on the night he became a full-fledged librarian knight. Later, the same caterbird who was bound to protect Twig grabbed him when he went over the cliff aboard the Skyraider after the Second Attack on the Tower of Night. It then carried him to Riverrise.
In The Immortals the caterbird whose hatching Twig had witnessed came to see him in the Garden of Life. Later on, it reversed the path of the poisoned dart that Golderayce One-Eye fired at Nate Quarter by stirring up a ferocious whirlwind with its wings, killing the Custodian General and saving Nate. Finally, after the destruction of the gloamglozers by the Immortals it talked to Nate and told him about the three Ancient Ones before flying out into Open Sky.