The phoenix is a large swan-sized scarlet bird with red and gold plumage, along with a golden beak and talons, black eyes, and a tail as long as a peacock's. Its scarlet feathers glow faintly in darkness, while its golden tail feathers are hot to the touch.

Phoenixes will usually nest on mountain peaks and are gentle herbivores that are not known for fighting. As phoenixes approach their Burning Day they resemble a half-plucked turkey. Also, their eyes become dull, their feathers start to fall out, and it begins to make gagging noises. Then the bird suddenly bursts into flames only to rise from the ashes shortly after. In a number of days, they grow back to full size. Thanks to this ability, phoenixes live to an immense age.

Abilities and traits

The most startling of the phoenix's abilities is its ability to regenerate itself. It periodically bursts into flames when its body becomes old, and rises from the ashes as a newborn chick. This event is called Burning Day, and gives these birds a great life span, as well as the ability to take the full force of a Killing Curse and still be reborn. Phoenixes are immune to the gaze of a basilisk, which would normally kill anyone who has direct eye to eye contact, or petrify through indirect eye contact.

The phoenix can also disappear and reappear at will in bursts of flames and take whoever is holding them along, similar to Apparition (though like house-elf magic, they cannot be restricted like wizards are), and boasts magical tears and song. As stated by Albus Dumbledore, they are extremely loyal creatures, and are capable of arriving to the aid of beings who share a similar devotion, which was how Fawkes arrived to assist Harry in killing the Basilisk down at the Chamber of Secrets. Their tears have potent healing capabilities. For instance, phoenix tears are the only known antidote of basilisk venom. Their tears are also able to bring a person back even from the brink of death, while the phoenix song will increase the courage of the good and strike fear into the hearts of the evil. Phoenixes are capable of lifting a great weight with their tails, such as being able to effortlessly fly up a distance with four people holding on to its tail. They can also leave messages by bursting into flame to reappear elsewhere, leaving behind a single golden tail feather.

Phoenix feather materials

Phoenix feathers are a powerful magical substance, and as such are an accepted wand core. Fawkes gave two feathers, which ended up in the wands of Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort, which is said to be the reason why they locked in Priori Incantatem when the two wizards attempted to engage in a magical battle in the Little Hangleton graveyard. Due to phoenixes being very difficult to tame, the wands with such feathers are the pickiest of owners, and usually act on their own accord, due to having the most initiative of all core types. Phoenix feathers are sometimes used as writing quills.