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We all know Moltres is based on the phoenix, Zapdos is based on the thunderbird, and Articuno is based on the Simurgh (and I did not just check Bulbapedia to see what Articuno is based on. Nope. Absolutely not). However, those are creatures from legend. What real-life birds are they based on? Are they even based on any existing birds at all?

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Articuno

Its long tail and small body also may be a reference to the quetzal. In addition, it is anatomically similar to the white-throated magpie-jay.

Zapdos

Aesthetically, it may be based on hummingbirds, due to the long beak, the rather simple wings, and described violent behavior.

Moltres

In addition, it may be based on a heron because of their similarities in body shape.


They are primarily based on the mythical birds you mentioned, but they do all have a bit of inspiration (probably) from these regular birds.

Hope I helped!

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Thanks! Never thought Zapdos would be a hummingbird lol
No problem!
Those are things I never would have thought of but are so trueeee