As the Pokemon games have expanded, so has the amount of legendary trios. Though the first trio, The Legendary Birds (Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres), really set the standards that the others would have to meet in future generations. Some of the criteria that they implemented were that the three should be about equal in abilities, share common traits, and check each other in certain areas. In the games they’ve been referred to by other names, one of the most popular being ‘winged mirages’.
Articuno is the most passive of the three birds. It lives in the highest of mountains to isolate itself from others and dislikes battling. Articuno is thought to be only a myth, a sight that travelers without any chance of surviving see before meeting death at extremely low temperatures. It is supposed to be quite a beautiful sight to behold, with its icy feathers gleaming and its long, flowing tail trailing behind it. According to its pokedex entries, Articuno is said to freeze the moisture in the atmosphere while flying so it actually causes snow to fall after it. Articuno is the first Legendary Pokemon listed in the National Pokedex. Its name comes from the word ‘arctic’ and is most-likely based off from Persian rokh, a giant arctic bird.
Zapdos is the lightest and the smallest of the three. According to its pokédex entries, Zapdos is said to appear only when a thundercloud parts into two halves, though it also says that they appear when the sky turns dark and lightening showers down from the sky. Apparently the bird can cause savage thunderstorms when flapping its glittering wings. It is said that its wings snap and crackle when it flies and that Zapdos will gain power if hit by lightning bolts. Zapdos is based off from the Native American legends of thunderbirds. Its name comes from the word ‘zap’, as it has to do with electricity.
Moltres is the largest of the three Legendary Birds. As stated in its pokedex entries, Moltres is a thrilling sight to behold. With every flap of its large wings, embers fall from them. In some legends, those embers had healing properties. It is said that it migrates south along with spring and can even bring an early spring to wintry lands. If hurt, Moltres submerges itself in molten magma of volcanoes so that it can heal. Moltres’s design is based off from the legend of the phoenix. It also holds similarities to the flamebird in Slavic folklore. Its name comes from the word ‘molten’, as if referring to lava.
An ironic thing having to do with the Legandary Birds are the suffixes in their names. Each ends in a Spanish number in the same order that they’re placed in the National Pokedex. Articuno comes first as its name has the number ‘one’ in Spanish (uno). Zapdos follows after it, having the number ‘two’ in its name (dos). And finally Moltres comes in third with the number ‘three’ (tres). Their names even make them a trio.