The hollowfeather crow curls its neck inward. It then reaches its beak through its own chest, plucks out a pulseless heart, and devours it whole once more. Once it has been swallowed, the extracted organ can be seen from outside as it tumbles downward through exposed, translucent ribs, and eventually snaps back into position. The crow does this again and again, restlessly staving off its own endless hunger.
This corvid belongs to a classification of animals known as mortants, which are defined by their tendency to be more organically active while dead than alive. Hollowfeather crows only live for eight to ten years, yet usually persist in a state of impatient hunger for at least twenty more. During this time, their digestive tracts takes over all major biological processes after the “vital” organs cease to function. Exposed tissues grow thin, and eventually cease to heal altogether. Blood oxygenation takes place not through breath, but rather, through direct exposure to the atmosphere (repeatedly detaching their own hearts is the closest thing these creatures have to respiration). As the years pass, their feathers lose their trademark darkness, leaving their wings as clear as those of dragonflies.
The post-death vigor of this species also fuels their curious mating habits. While the female crow is only fertile while alive, the male is only fertile immediately following death, resulting in strange courtship rituals. During the month of April, several living males dance for their prospective female mate, who only chooses one from among them. Upon making up her mind, she approaches the favored male, then snaps his heart from between his ribs and swallows it whole. She then prostrates herself against the ground, and allows the male to swallow her own heart during the actual act of mating. Though neither crow actually survives this process, both continue to use the other’s heart until years later, when they finally fall still.