According to Darth Plagueis, pylats were birds that were highly prized by Neimoidians. They symbolized wealth and status, and created what Nute Gunray called "envy" amongst those Neimoidians who did not possess such birds.
The species was indigenous to Neimoidia's rainforest-covered mountains, as well as Sojourn's jungles, but it was unclear where the species actually originated. According to Darth Plagueis, the species was "abundant on Nemoidia", which made them more symbolic of wealth than actually valuable. The red-spotted variety found on Sojourn, however, was considerably rarer.
They were often black-and-white, with a large crest — though a rarer, red-spotted white variety was known to exist in the rain forests of Sojourn. In addition to typically grand crests, pylats were possessed of wings ending in clawed "fingers" that helped them climb trees.
Pylat song was very harmonious, soothing to the ears. Indeed, Nute Gunray once used the quality of his pylat's song to assess the bird's general level of contentment. Moreover, the song could prove beneficial to Gunaray's Trade Federation, which often kept such birds aboard their ships in conference rooms. There, pylat song put negotiators at ease, giving them a false sense of security.[source?]
Role in the rise of the Empire
Darth Sidious' business partnership with Gunray began because Plagueis sent the Neimoidian a pylat bird from Sojourn. Secretly delivered, the rare, red-spotted pylat bird at first confused Gunray. Sidious' first public act was to contact Gunray by holo and claim responsibility for sending the bird, which then opened a broader discussion. Because Gunray was unfamiliar with the power of Sith Lords, Sidious threatened to demonstrate them by killing the pylat from a remote location. Gunray soon saw the advantage of complying with Sidious' will.
However, Sideous and Plagueis had actually fooled Gunray completely. It wasn't actually a bird from Sojourn, but rather a Kaminoan clone of a red-spotted pylat from Sojourn — one of the many tests Plagueis had the Kaminoans perform in preparation for the eventual order of the Grand Army of the Republic.
Later, when Trade Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray flooded the conference room of Saak'ak with poisonous gas in a failed attempt to murder Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi, the gas killed the pylat birds in the room.
In the time of the New Republic
Pylat birds were never displayed at the Coruscant Livestock Exchange and Exhibition until the establishment of the New Republic. Following exhibition there, a Sy Myrthian diplomat had a pet pylat bird.
Behind the scenes
The pylat birds did not make the final cut of The Phantom Menace, but were in the novelization as "bird-like creatures."
- The Wildlife of Star Wars: A Field Guide
- Episode I: The Visual Dictionary
- Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia