"I'll bet you're not dangerous at all, are you? Are you, you great ugly brute?"
-- Draco Malfoy to Buckbeak, making a rather serious mistake (PA6)
Buckbeak is a grey hippogriff, one of the group of the creatures Hagrid brought to his first Care of Magical Creatures lesson with the third year students in the fall of 1993. Harry Potter was the first student to attempt to befriend a hippogriff in that class, and Buckbeak was the animal he approached. Buckbeak accepted Harry’s advance and allowed Harry to pat him and then fly on him above the paddock. After Harry rode Buckbeak, Draco Malfoy made an attempt. Draco hadn’t been listening when Hagrid told the students not to insult hippogriffs, however, and Draco offended the creature with his boorish remarks about it. Buckbeak slashed Draco’s arm with his talons in retaliation.
Draco pretended to be hurt much more seriously than he was and convinced his father to step in. Lucius influenced the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures to order Buckbeak’s execution. Appeals on Buckbeak’s behalf failed and Hagrid was forced to allow the Committee, led by the executioner Walden MacNair, to behead the hippogriff. Before this could happen, however, Harry and Hermione released Buckbeak from Hagrid’s pumpkin patch and flew him up to the room in the castle where Sirius Black was being held captive. Sirius rode Buckbeak to safety. The two of them were both fugitives.
After staying for some time in the tropics to avoid capture, Sirius and Buckbeak travelled back to Britain and hid out in a cave in the mountains above the town of Hogsmeade. They stayed there for most of the 1994 – 1995 school year, then moved to number twelve, Grimmauld Place. Buckbeak stayed in the upstairs bedroom which had belonged to Sirius’s mother.
As part of the plot to trick Harry Potter into coming to the Ministry of Magic, Kreacher the house-elf injured Buckbeak, thereby keeping Sirius busy so Harry would think his godfather was not at Grimmauld Place if he checked. After the death of Sirius, Harry inherited Buckbeak. OnDumbledore’s suggestion, Harry gave the hippogriff to Hagrid to look after. As a precaution, Buckbeak’s name was changed to Witherwings, although Dumbledore said that it was unlikely that anyone at the Ministry would remember that this was the hippogriff they had attempted to execute three years before.
Buckbeak eats meat; he has eaten chicken bones (GF27), dead ferrets (PA14), and dead rats (OP6). When in the forest, he dug around in the ground for worms (PA21). Hagrid called Buckbeak “Beaky” and let him sleep on his bed, even while eating ferrets and getting blood all over the place (PA14). His eyes are orange.