Owlbear are probably the crossbred creation of a demented wizard; given the lethality of this creation, it is quite likely that the wizard who created them is no longer alive. However, venerable elves claim to have known these creatures for thousands of years, and some fey insist that owlbears have always existed in the Feywild. Owlbears are vicious, ravenous, aggressive, and evil tempered at all times.
Owlbears are a cross between a giant owl and a bear. They are covered with a thick coat of feathers and fur, brown-black to yellow-brown in color. The 8-foot-tall males, which weigh between 1,300 and 1,500 pounds are darker colored. The beaks of these creatures are yellow to ivory and their terrifying eyes an red-rimmed. Owlbears speak their own language, which consists of very loud screeches of varying length and pitch,
The owlbear attacks prey on sight, always fighting to the death. It attacks with its claws and snapping beak. If an owlbears, with its claws, drags its victim into a hug, subsequently squeezing its opponent until either the victim or the owlbear is slain. The owlbear can also use its beak attack on victims caught in its grasp but cannot use its claws.
Owlbears inhabit the depths of tangled forests in temperate climes, as well as subterranean labyrinths, living in caves or hollow stumps. An owlbear pair claims a territory of one or two square miles and will vigorously defend this territory against all intruders. An owlbear’s main weakness is also its greatest strength-its ferocity. Because owlbears are so bad-tempered, they stop at nothing to kill a target. It is not difficult to trick an owlbear into hurling itself off a cliff or into a trap, provided you can find one.
Owlbears have a lifespan of 20 years. They are warm-blooded mammals but lay eggs. They prey on anything. from rabbits to bears, to trolls, to snakes and reptiles. Owlbears prefer temperate climates, but some thrive in subarctic environments. As a hybrid of two animals, one diurnal and the other nocturnal, they have an unusual active time, waking at noon, hunting animals active during the day, then hunting nocturnal creatures before going to sleep at midnight. Owlbear are active in the summer months and hibernate during the cold season. There are rumors of white arctic owlbears, a cross between arctic owls and polar bears, but no specimens have ever been captured.
The owlbear’s reputation for ferocity, aggression, stubbornness, and sheer ill temper makes it one of the most feared predators of the wild. There is little, if anything, that a hungry owlbear fears. Even monsters that outmatch an owlbear in size and strength avoid tangling with it, for this creature cares nothing about a foe’s superior strength as it attacks without provocation.
An owlbear makes its den in a cave or ruin littered with the bones of its prey. It drags partially devoured kills back to its den, storing portions of the carcass among the surrounding rocks, bushes, and trees. The scent of blood and rotting flesh hangs heavy near an owlbear’s lair, attracting scavengers and thus luring more prey. Owlbears hunt alone or in mated pairs. If quarry is plentiful, a family of owlbears might remain together for longer than is required to rear offspring. Otherwise, they part ways as soon as the young are ready to hunt.
Although they are more intelligent than most animals, owlbears are difficult to tame. However, with enough time, food, and luck, an intelligent creature can train an owlbear to recognize it as a master, making it an unflinching guard or a fast and hardy mount. People of remote frontier settlements have even succeeded at racing owlbears, but spectators bet as often on which owlbear will attack its handler as they do on which will reach the finish line first.
Elven communities encourage owlbears to den beneath their treetop villages, using the beasts as a natural defense during the night. Hobgoblins favor owlbears as war beasts, and hill giants and frost giants sometimes keep owlbears as pets. A starved owlbear might show up in a gladiatorial arena, ruthlessly eviscerating and devouring its foes before a bloodthirsty audience.