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What is the most realistic body structure for an anthropomorphic bird?

The different body structures are:

  1. Normal bird, just larger, more intelligent, etc.

  2. Two legs and two wings, with hoatzin-like claws on the wings (Probably with more fingers, but the general idea is the same)

  3. Flightless (For reference, look up "rue kenku fursuit".

Which of these would be the most realistic, if anthropomorphic birds existed? As in, which body structure would work the best for a sapient race with human level intelligence and technology? How would, for example, an anthro bird with the body type of a normal bird ever reach the same technological level as humans? Ideally, they will be able to fly, although that is not a necessity.

To further narrow this question, I'm specifically talking about songbirds and birds of prey. Corvids and parrots already have dexterous feet in real life, but I'm wondering if that would work for birds like cardinals or eagles. Would they have more dexterous feet or would they have arms?

Which of the above three structures would be most realistic for an anthropomorphic bird such as a cardinal or falcon?

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    $\begingroup$ What metric do you want for "most realistic"? It is hard to get more realistic than "normal bird", because we've got those already, and gryphons seem unambiguously the least realistic, what with the 6-limbed bodyplan and all. Without some constraints, I don't think you're going to get the best possible answers, and you risk the question being closed. $\endgroup$ Commented May 2 at 18:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Starfish Prime Good point. I will edit my question accordingly $\endgroup$
    – Talbot
    Commented May 2 at 18:32
  • $\begingroup$ "How would, for example, an anthro bird with the body type of a normal bird...." - how do you mean a normal bird? Penguin, ostrich, kiwi, herring gull, flamingo, humming-bird......? $\endgroup$ Commented May 2 at 21:59
  • $\begingroup$ Any bird fits into the criteria of "normal bird". The reason I ask this question is that I'm running into issues on how certain types of birds, e.g., penguins, would be able to use technology similar to the kind found in the Middle Ages and onward, which is when my stories take place. Their feet don't really work well for manipulating objects like corvids do, hence the ambiguity of my question. $\endgroup$
    – Talbot
    Commented May 2 at 23:14
  • $\begingroup$ The issues that you'd have adapting a hummingbird are radically different from those you'd face with a penguin. You need to specify a single bird type and give us sufficient specs to work on that. At present the question is too broad to fit here comfortably. $\endgroup$ Commented May 3 at 1:39

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I think the second model is the most realistic. The example that comes to mind is Velociraptor. Said dinosaur had both wings and hand-like claws. Their bone structure is reminiscent of flying birds, and Velociraptor skeletons contain quill knobs (nonexistent in flightless birds).

enter image description here

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Anthropomoprhoic is a bad way to go, humans are a rather bad design esspecially for a bird base. Somthing more like a dinosaur, would be better. That is bird like with larger dinosaur like hands. An upright spine is just a bad system. birds use a diffrent breathing system and have inflexible hips so a more horizontal setup is better. Birds are already bipedal there is no reason to gain all the disadvantages of being upright for no gain. That said being more upright is fine and might have advantages like helping offset the big head. but being fully upright is basically impossible with a birds hip structure unless you want them to do the penguin waddle.

This is doubly true if you want them to fly. You also need ot keep them small for that, which means they will have a huge head. A big brain is expensive as is flight, so don't expect them to be good fliers, more like chickens which can fly but rarely do. this will also hamper their hands so they will not be as good as using tools. You just can't make arms that a good for flight and tools.

there is basicaly no way for current birds to evolve 6 limbs, so that is right out for realism unless they are aliens. And that probably the only way flight will really work.

enter image description here

here is a bit of art from RoFlo-Felorez that is pretty close and should give you a good idea of what I mean.

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  • $\begingroup$ I would also shrink the beak. Tool-use capable hands could be a genetic response to the beak getting smaller, and it would be a feedback loop: more capable hands means prepared food, means beak can shrink, means hands need to become even more dexterous etc, until you end up with a near beakless bird, or something akin to a feathered ape. $\endgroup$ Commented May 6 at 9:48
  • $\begingroup$ @GoingDurden yes and no for beaklessness, without teeth and with a crop, the beak may not be able to change as much, beaks also cost a lot less than teeth, since they are only made of protein. humans still have fairly complex dentition albeit much weaker dentition than out ancestors. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented May 6 at 20:25
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The most realistic body structure for an anthropomorphic bird is that matching an existing bird. Source: As an inhabitant of reality, I have observed that all real creatures are realistic, and all unreal creatures are strictly less realistic. Real birds are real (although see recent debate on this topic), and unreal birds are not.

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  • $\begingroup$ the platypus is definitely not realistic despite being manifestly real, so this is not a good heuristic. $\endgroup$ Commented May 6 at 9:45

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