22

Phoenixes are immortal and they have the ability to lay eggs and have children. Logically one would assume that they would be able to find phoenixes everywhere, however in the entire 7 years of Harry's life we only see two (Fawkes and Sparky*). Finally, they are able to survive a full killing curse by rebirthing themselves.

Why is the Phoenix population so low?

* Sparky is the phoenix mascot of the Moutohora Macaws, a Quidditch team from New Zealand. Apart from Fawkes, Sparky is the only known domesticated phoenix. This information was revealed in Quidditch throughout the Ages.

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    Who the hell is Sparky? – Anthony Grist Jan 13 '17 at 17:17
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    Sparky is the phoenix mascot of the Moutohora Macaws, a Quidditch team from New Zealand. Apart from Fawkes, Sparky is the only known domesticated phoenix. – Attack Helicopter Jan 13 '17 at 17:18
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    @Skooba Why would a team literally named the Macaws have a mascot that's a phoenix? That's as dumb as a house named Ravenclaw having.... an eagle... mascot. Oh. – Slacklord the Terrible Jan 13 '17 at 17:23
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    If phoenices are immortal, then they would have no evolutionary pressure to produce offspring. The real question is: Why is the phoenix population so high? – jwodder Jan 13 '17 at 18:17
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    @Walt - Very well, thank you. – Adamant Jan 13 '17 at 18:45
35

We probably don't see more because they are not native to Great Britain.

It nests on mountain peaks and is found in Egypt, India, and China.

Since the story is from Harry's POV and he has never been to those places, it seems reasonable the only one we see is Fawkes.

Keep in mind as well they are very hard to domesticate

The phoenix gains a XXXX rating not because it is aggressive but because very few wizards have ever succeeded in domesticating it.

and they may be difficult to track down to begin with as

... it can disappear and reappear at will.

All quotes from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - Phoenix


In addition the incubation/gestation period may last several years, which might be a good reason for overall low populations to begin with.

Phoenix eggs are glossy green or blue in colour, they require no incubation but may not hatch for several years.

Phoenix artwork from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by Jim Kay

However, the "canonicity" of this information is unknown as it comes from a secondary source.


Moreover, we do not actually know if they are truly immortal. Fantastic Beasts does not use this phrasing

The phoenix lives to an immense age as it can regenerate...

and Pottermore does not list as one the their "magical abilities"

Ability to burst into flame when their bodies begin to fail, then be reborn from the ashes. Can carry incredibly heavy loads, tears have healing properties

  • 11
    TL;DR: Observer bias – Gallifreyan Jan 13 '17 at 17:36
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    @Valorum Good point. I checked wording in canon sources and "immortal" in not used. – Attack Helicopter Jan 13 '17 at 18:44
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    I guess it depends on what you mean by "immortal". If you mean, "can not possibly die", like a god, then that seems unlikely. If you mean "does not naturally die of old age", like a Sequoia, then it seems a good description. – T.E.D. Jan 13 '17 at 19:05
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    @T.E.D. I would expect the biologically immortal meaning. – Oriol Jan 13 '17 at 19:30
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    @Michael Perhaps. They may be like cats and have "nine lives"; I provided the canon information, one can interpret that how they see fit. – Attack Helicopter Jan 13 '17 at 21:52

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