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The South Bird is a species of bird native to the forests of Jaya and Skypiea. For unknown reasons, its head is always inclined south, regardless of its current location or position.

In ancient times, prior to the development of Log Poses, some civilizations used South Birds as navigational aids.

Overview

Appearance

A South Bird's color scheme in the manga.

South Birds have extremely colorful plumage, chiefly in alternating patterns of purple and green. Their heads—particularly bills—are markedly long and narrow, akin to those of toucans. Like most birds, they are tetradactyl, with three forward-facing toes and one backward-facing.

The typical Jaya specimen is roughly the size of a human toddler. However, the typical Skypiea specimen—due to generations of consuming the land's unique nutrients—is several times larger.


Behavior

South Birds cannot point their heads in any other direction, even momentarily, without considerable effort. To compensate, their neck muscles are incredibly flexible, allowing them to turn and move their bodies more-or-less independently of their heads.

Their call is a deep and highly distinctive "Jyo" (ジョー?). Through unknown mechanisms, this call allows them to control a wide variety of insects, such as moths, hornets, and praying mantises.

Possibly due to a long history of being hunted and used as navigational tools, the South Birds of Jaya tend to be ill-disposed toward humans, and will not hesitate to drive nearby insects against would-be hunters.[1] In contrast, those of Skypiea are benign enough to befriend, respect, and even rescue humans at no gain to themselves.[2][3]

Variants

Jaya's forests are also known to contain North, Eastern, and Western Birds, all of which behave similarly toward those respective directions. They are mostly identical to the South Bird in appearance, differing mainly in the shape of the crests atop their heads:

  • The Eastern Bird's crest resembles the letter "E"
  • The Western Bird's crest resembles the letter "W"
  • The North Bird's crest resembles a heart (though this may possibly be a female-specific trait)

These variants are apparently biologically close enough to mate and produce offspring in any combination (not unlike Fish-Men and Merfolk).[4] It remains unknown how their overall populations compare, or whether they exist in Skypiea as well.

History

Past

When we got to the island we heard... the strange cries of a jungle bird...
— Mont Blanc Noland

South Birds were well-known on Jaya even in the age of old Shandora, and the ancient Shandia were known to sculpt golden idols in their image. Indeed, Mont Blanc Noland's first impressions of the island (apart from the Golden Bell's tolling) were their distinctive calls.[1]

After the Knock-Up Stream launched half of Jaya (including Shandora) into Skypiea, a large population of South Birds acclimated themselves to the new environment of what would come to be known as Upper Yard. Over centuries, the unique mixture of nutrients caused them to grow many times larger than their Jaya forebears.

Sky Island Saga

Jaya Arc

The Straw Hats' South Bird.

When the Straw Hat Pirates resolved to ride the Knock-Up Stream to Skypiea, Mont Blanc Cricket urged them to find a South Bird to navigate by (as the Stream had no earth or minerals for a Log Pose to affix to). The search proved long and frustrating, as the Straw Hats were unused to Jaya's forests, and the South Birds marshalled countless insects to drive them away.[1] However, one eventually grew too bold in taunting the Straw Hats, and Nico Robin pinpointed and caught it with her Hana Hana powers.[5]

This South Bird was soon chained to the Going Merry's foredeck, but remained defiant, and even tried to mislead its captors by averting its head—unsuccessfully, much to Luffy's amusement. With its unwilling help, the Straw Hats were able to reach the Knock-Up Stream, and ultimately Skypiea.[6]

Skypiea Arc

South Birds in Skypiea.

Shortly after the Straw Hats entered Skypiea, they freed their South Bird, which furiously pecked an apologetic Nami before flying off.[7]

Later, the crew encountered many Skypiea-born South Birds in the forests of Upper Yard. A large flock saved Gan Fall, Pierre, and Chopper (all severely beaten by Shura) from the shark-infested waters around the Sacrificial Altar, out of respect for Gan Fall's legacy as "God" of Skypiea.[2][3] The next day, another one began following Zoro for his lunch, only for Zoro to repeatedly rebuff it, and even throw his knapsack at it; undaunted, it flew off with the knapsack, forcing Zoro to grab on.[8][9] Once airborne, the pair were spotted and attacked by a hungry Nola, panicking the bird into tossing Zoro free (directly onto the Upper Ruins of Shandora).[10]

Surprisingly, once the Straw Hats had finished adventuring in Skypiea, their original South Bird rushed back to the departing Merry, apparently unwilling to stay behind.[11]


The following events are Non-Canon and therefore not considered part of the Canon story.


G-8 Arc

When the descent from Skypiea inadvertently landed the Merry in the middle of Navarone Island and its famed G-8 Marine Base, all of the Straw Hats were forced to evacuate, leaving the South Bird alone onboard. During the Marines' initial investigation, it was spotted and identified as "a silly bird" by Vice Admiral Jonathan; angered, the South Bird mercilessly pecked him before flying off.[12]


The following events are Non-Canon and therefore not considered part of the Canon story.


Merchandise

Video Games

Non-Playable

Trivia

A non-South pointing bird.

  • Long before Chapter 644's confirmation that other directional birds existed, the anime adaptation of the Jaya Arc depicted at least one "South" Bird pointing out-of-sync with others.[13]
  • These birds were possibly inspired by the magnetoreception abilities found in many real-life animals, most famously the homing pigeon.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 One Piece Manga and Anime — Vol. 25 Chapter 230 and Episode 149, South Birds are explained, and the Straw Hats sent—almost too late—to find one in Jaya's forests.
  2. 2.0 2.1 One Piece Manga and Anime — Vol. 27 Chapter 251 (p. 14-19) and Episode 164, Chopper finds himself, Gan Fall, and Pierre all alive on the Sacrificial Altar—surrounded by the huge South Birds that saved them.
  3. 3.0 3.1 One Piece Manga and Anime — Vol. 27 Chapter 253 (p. 8-9) and Episode 166, Reunited, the Straw Hats discuss the Jaya-Skypiea connection and the South Birds' actions.
  4. One Piece Manga — Vol. 65 Chapter 644, cover story: From the Decks of the World Vol. 27, A South Bird and a North Bird perch beside their children, an Eastern Bird and a Western Bird.
  5. One Piece Manga and Anime — Vol. 25 Chapter 231 and Episode 150.
  6. One Piece Manga and Anime — Vol. 25 Chapter 235 and Episode 152.
  7. One Piece Manga and Anime — Vol. 26 Chapter 239 and Episode 154.
  8. One Piece Manga and Anime — Vol. 28 Chapter 264 (p. 19) and Episode 173, Zoro's lunch attracts a hungry South Bird.
  9. One Piece Manga and Anime — Vol. 29 Chapter 266 (p. 14-15) and Episode 175, Hopelessly lost, Zoro hits the South Bird for laughing, unaware its head has been pointing to his goal (Shandora) all along. The bird promptly carries off his knapsack, thinking it holds more food.
  10. One Piece Manga and Anime — Vol. 29 Chapter 267 (p. 8-10) and Episode 175.
  11. One Piece Manga and Anime — Vol. 32 Chapter 302 (p. 10-11) and Episode 195.
  12. One Piece Anime — Episode 196.
  13. One Piece Anime — Episode 150, Birds are seen with their heads pointing perpendicular to each other.

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