Riding Bird (CR 2)
Alignment: Always neutral
Initiative: +2 (Dex); Senses: low-light vision, scent, Listen +8, and Spot +9
AC: 14 (-1 size, +2 Dex, +3 natural), touch 11, flat-footed 12
Hit Dice: 4d8+8 (26 hp)
Fort +6, Ref +6, Will +4
Speed: 60 ft.
Space: 10 ft./5 ft.
Base Attack +3; Grapple +10
Attack: Bite +6 melee
Full Attack: Bite +6 melee and claw +1 melee
Damage: Bite 1d8+4, claw 1d6+2
Special Attacks/Actions: -
Abilities: Str 18, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 2, Wis 16, Cha 8
Feats: Endurance; Run
Skills: Jump +18, Listen +8, and Spot +9
Advancement: 5-7 HD (Large), 8-9 HD (Huge)
Climate/Terrain: Warm plains and forests
Organization: Solitary, pair, or flock (8-20 adults plus 2-5 young)
Riding birds are usually either shy or friendly, and thus don't often engage in combat. Most potential predators leave riding birds alone in favor of slower prey. However, when a riding bird's young or those its become attached to are in danger, it makes effective use of its sharp beak and powerful talons.
Skills: Like most birds, riding birds have keen eyesight, giving them a +6 racial bonus on Spot checks.
Carrying Capacity: A light load for a riding bird is up to 200 pounds; a medium load, 201--400 pounds; and a heavy load, 401--600 pounds. A riding bird can drag 3,000 pounds. Riding birds cost 400 gp.
Black Riding Birds
Far more rare than the standard yellow-feathered riding bird is the nearly mythical black riding bird. Said to lurk only in the most secluded mountain forests or born by chance from the controlled breeding of thoroughbreds, black riding birds are one of nature's most prized treasures.
Black riding birds have the exact same stats as standard riding birds, as well as a fly speed of 90 feet (good). Black riding birds usually sell for 2,000 gp on the open market.
Summoning Riding Birds
Although they have no skills or magic powers that set them apart from other animals, riding birds are known to be particularly responsive to magical summons and calls for allies. Thus, at 5th level, when a paladin calls for a mount, it's entirely possibly that a riding bird answers her call. Also, beginning at 4th level for a druid (or 8th level for a ranger), a riding bird can be summoned to serve as an animal companion. Riding birds also answer the call of summon nature's ally II.