The Sand Bird is a bird creature that Mario encounters in Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy 2. In Super Mario Sunshine, it originally appears as an egg, but it ultimately hatches during the events of the game. When hatched, the Sand Bird resembles an entity composed of sand blocks, arranged in a shape reminiscent of an actual bird. Although the Sand Bird does not seem to possess any outstanding biological characteristics, it is a living creature and capable of movement and producing screech noises.
Super Mario Sunshine
Prior to hatching, the Sand Bird egg is kept inside a structure called the Shine Tower on Isle Delfino's Gelato Beach. Three large mirrors are situated around the building, reflecting sunlight into a device on the tower's top that keeps the Sand Bird egg warm and healthy. This process has been going on for more than a century. The Shine Tower and the Sand Bird egg are supervised by a Pianta professor, who can be found near the structure most of the time.
The Sand Bird plays an integral role during Episodes 2 and 4 (Mirror Madness! Tilt, Slam, Bam! and The Sand Bird is Born, respectively) of Gelato Beach. During Episode 2, the Sand Bird egg is disturbed by a giant Wiggler and creatures known as Plungelos. The Wiggler is occupying the device on top of the Shine Tower while the Plungelos are throwing the mirrors off balance, thereby depriving the egg of its warmth. Mario is tasked with restoring the original condition of the structure and getting rid of the intruders to ensure the egg's safety.
The Sand Bird then finally hatches in between Episodes 3 and 4, breaking out of the Shine Tower and flying away. During Episode 4, the newly hatched Sand Bird can be found soaring high above the ground, circling a tower. Mario accesses this place by leaping through the hole in the Shine Tower's roof into the broken remains of the Sand Bird egg. By doing this, the player is presented with a Red Coin challenge: Mario needs to collect eight Red Coins while trying not to fall into the pit below him, and he can use the Sand Bird's flight path to access the harder-to-reach coins. When Mario jumps, momentum does not factor in as usual, as the bird's constant flight means that he will have to move forward more while jumping to retain his position. Furthermore, at two points during the flight, the bird will tilt its body at a 90° angle, requiring Mario to adjust his footing accordingly. Seven of the Red Coins can be found on the bird's neck, wings, and tail. The eighth one is located on top of the large tower in the center of this area; once the Sand Bird reaches the end of its course near the top of this tower, it will dive and start from the beginning again.
Four of the 30 Blue Coins in Gelato Beach can be found only in Episode 4's secret area. As the Sand Bird flies toward the top of the tower, five clouds pass by. One of these clouds holds a 1-Up Mushroom, while the other four contain the Blue Coins. The Sand Bird does not make another appearance after this. The remains of its egg can still be viewed inside the Shine Tower, but access to it has been blocked by a wooden grate.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
In Super Mario Galaxy 2, the Sand Bird appears only in the Slipsand Galaxy, in the mission Sailing the Sandy Seas. This time, it is a bird-shaped raft that is made of sand parts that disappear when hit by cacti and enemy attacks, such as a Magikoopa's beams or Homing Chomps. However, they reappear after some seconds. Within the mission, Mario or Luigi must ride the Sand Bird to avoid falling into the quicksand that makes up the surface of its planet until he reaches a Power Star.
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