There are a multitude of new features that Elden Ring introduces to the Soulsborne formula, and one of the more interesting of these is the concept of field bosses. To be specific, these aren't foes who are locked away inside a boss arena, and are instead fought out in the open world. You can even ride your horse during these fights!
The Deathbird and its tougher variant, the Death Rite Bird, are both examples of area bosses found around the Lands Between. They are big bird enemies with what looks like a doll's head, but it's important to note that they can only be fought at night. Deathbirds will definitely put up a fight, so come prepared to do battle — the rewards are definitely worth it.
The closest Deathbird to the starting area of Elden Ring, the one found to the east of the Warmaster's Site of Grace in Limgrave gives a good example of what's to come when facing these enemies. Big, creepy birds that are way faster than should be possible, you would think the best decision would to stay mounted. However, this leaves you vulnerable.
The biggest problem when riding a horse in Elden Ring is that you lose your ability to roll, which makes dodging attacks much more difficult. This is especially true with the speed and ferocity of the Deathbird's attacks. Felling this Deathbird will give you the Blue-Feathered Branchsword talisman, which is far from Elden Ring's best talisman.
7 Weeping Peninsula
This Deathbird is southwest of the Castle Morne Rampart Site of Grace, the one with the merchant next to it. The bird spawns right next to a big ruin. Fighting takes the same format as with the first Deathbird: you can try to fight on horseback, employing hit-and-run or ranged attacks, or get up close on foot and try to stay between its legs.
Both ways of fighting are difficult, but its important to note that Deathbirds are extremely weak to Holy damage. This makes sense, since they are the exact opposite of Holy. Either way, you're in for a challenge if you take on this field boss unprepared, so try crafting some buff items if you're struggling. This Deathbird drops the Sacrificial Axe.
6 Liurnia Of The Lakes
Liurnia of the Lakes is one of the first areas in Elden Ring in which the difficulty of certain enemies begin to spike, such as the lobsters hiding in the water. Therefore, you should exercise caution when taking on this Deathbird, as any enemies in the area could potentially gatecrash the fight and make it exponentially more difficult for you.
A particular attack to look out for when fighting Deathbirds is one where it leaps into the air, before flying back to land on you. This can be awkward to time, and may take a few tries to figure out, so keep an eye out for it and try not to panic roll. This Deathbird drops the Red-Feathered Branchsword, and can be found just north of the Scenic Isle Site of Grace, pretty close to where you find Patches on part of his quest.
5 Capital Outskirts
Fighting this Deathbird will be especially difficult for anyone who isn't that good at taking on multiple enemies at once. This is because there are a number of snail enemies that roll at you, like the wheel skeletons of the past Souls games, smattered around the area where the Deathbird spawns.
They are not especially tough, but if they are ignored it could potentially spell the end of your fight. Any enemy in Elden Ring is dangerous, and this is even more the case when there are many of them. You'll find the Deathbird just down the road east of the Hermit Merchant's Shack. If you can beat the odds, defeating this Deathbird rewards you with the Twinbird Kite Shield that gives you the buff of both Branchsword talismans.
Thus begins the more difficult variant of the Deathbird, the Death Rite Bird. They look similar to their counterparts, with the same birdlike movements and doll's head, but attack with even more ferocity and add area of effect attacks to their arsenal. Combine all this with the fact that they hit like a truck, and you'll be lucky to survive more than one hit from a Death Rite Bird.
This doesn't mean they are impossible to beat, of course, just that this opponent is a level above the previous incarnations. The Death Rite Bird is deserving of the large amount of Runes and the powerful weapons they drop. You'll find this Death Rite Bird just across the road to the east from the Southern Aeonia Swamp Bank Site of Grace, and it rewards you with the Death's Poker.
3 Liurnia of the Lakes
Taking similar steps to regular Deathbirds in avoiding their attacks is a good idea, but the added AoE fire ability makes for a difficult horseback fight. For this reason it may be worth fighting Death Rite Birds on foot. This poses the problem of them flying away from you, peppering you with burning feathers from afar, but at least you'll be able to dodge or block them.
One attack to be especially aware of when it comes to Death Rite Birds is similar to the Deathbirds' flight attack, except this time it will launch spears all over the place that deal serious damage. This Death Rite Bird is found just south of the Gate Town North Site of Grace, and drops the Ancient Death Rancor Sorcery.
2 Central Mountaintops Of The Giants
A good tip for battling any enemy in Elden Ring is to try to exploit their weaknesses to certain status effects. In this case, Deathbirds and Death Rite Birds take extra damage from anything that applies Holy damage, making certain weapons and weapon buffs especially good for fighting these field bosses.
As such, it may be worthwhile to invest in some crafting, as you can make Holy Pots that will devastate this enemy with only a few well-placed throws. They really do make this tough encounter a breeze, instead of a headache. The closest Site of Grace to this Death Rite Bird is the Snow Valley Ruins Overlook to the east, and it drops the Death Ritual Spear when defeated.
1 Western Mountaintops Of The Giants
Like the previous fight, this Death Rite Bird is dangerous, but this one in particular is probably the most dangerous in the game. This is primarily because of its location near the end of the game, and the scaled-up damage as a result, but also because of its extreme attack speed.
To avoid this, try using Scarlet Rot, the only status effect these enemies are not immune to, which will slowly whittle down its health over time. Once applied, simply dodge the Death Rite Bird's attacks and wait for it to keel over. You can also find a spot above it, as this can de-aggro the boss with the Rot still ticking away. The final Death Rite Bird in Elden Ring, it can be found at the end of the river southeast of the Apostate Derelict Site of Grace. It drops the Explosive Ghostflame Sorcery.
Next: Elden Ring: Best Faith Weapons