I have bird-like race that I'm writing about, but I have no idea what their houses will be like. I have few things decided already, however, which are as follows :

  • They are NOT migratory. Though they can fly, they prefer to live in rigid villages, towns etc.

  • Agriculture is used, but not anywhere near as often as in human civilisations. There is a strong "survival of the fittest" philosophy, and anyone farming would have to take care to not have their goods taken by others.

  • Magic is wielded by some religious figures, and is based heavily on puppetry. They believe in a gigantic invisible web which ensnares all living things, and priests and the like will adorn themselves in ropes dangling from the head and arms to symbolise this. They will use puppets on occasion as workers, performing menial tasks that such high persons would not stoop to themselves


  • Their feathers are considerably dense, so insulation isn't an issue. However, they aren't watertight, so ceilings are still necessary

  • The humans in the world are only at the fifteenth century, and the birds are still at something equivalent to the eleventh, but they can steal from or trade with the humans if they see fit, with some difficulty trading as they struggle with human languages

  • Given their aggressive nature, they will naturally not hang out in groups larger than a few hundred. Families often dissolve quickly, and instead they live in tribe-like groups, often with only a few defining factors such as skills

  • The bird-people have six limbs : two legs, a pair of wings, and two arms. Their general shape is the same to a human, and wings notwithstanding they are the same size. If you include the wings, unfurled, they are slightly larger

  • The birds view humans with a cold indifference, and the humans likewise would not stoop so low as to interact with the "savage" birds. They don't have defined borders of their own, but they respect those of the humans. Occasionally, human countries might be separated by the territories of the birds, who will often try to capitalise on this by enforcing toll roads, collecting resources and very rarely uncut gems or other recognisably valuable items.

With all this in mind, what would their buildings, and indeed cities, look like?

  • $\begingroup$ Hey, very interesting question, but I think you've got to throw in some more deets. Do these guys mind getting rained on? What's their general technology level? Are they very social; how big of groups do they like to hang around in? These factors may be more important than agriculture and puppet magic details. What are their family units like? $\endgroup$
    – akaioi
    Oct 14, 2017 at 4:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Do the birds have hands or something akin to that? E.g. can they turn a doorknob? How big are they? You mention they can trade or steal from humans as they please but what are their overall attitudes towards humans and humans towards them? $\endgroup$
    – Jake
    Oct 14, 2017 at 4:27
  • $\begingroup$ Do these birds have normal bird legs (thin, short and with talons), or they look more like angels and have human legs? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Oct 14, 2017 at 6:05
  • $\begingroup$ @akaioi what is a deet? $\endgroup$
    – JYelton
    Oct 15, 2017 at 2:10
  • $\begingroup$ @JYelton "deets" is slang for "details"; for some reason it's always used in the plural. I wish it were something more cool and enigmatic, but... ;D $\endgroup$
    – akaioi
    Oct 15, 2017 at 2:28

2 Answers 2


I don't believe that they would have cities. Cities require agriculture and trade to produce the food surplus that the urban population eats. I doubt these people would group much larger than villages. Perhaps a hundred, if that. I would think something more like ten or twenty adults.

You don't mention how many offspring in a nest. If the number is relatively small, they might share nests.

Consider who is larger, the males or the females. An argument in favor of large females is that they might more easily pass larger eggs. The smaller, quicker males might fly into the world to fetch food, etc.

Most male birds have some kind of way of making a colorful display that they can use to attract the attention of predators away from their mates and children. They can often hide this display when they don't want to distract predators. Such a display often features in mating rituals. Look at me; I'm healthy and well fed. I can provide for many strong children. Think of a turkey or peacock spreading its tail.

They might engage in small scale agriculture in the home. Perhaps they might keep rabbits or similar that they can cage (or maybe a pit?) and eat when needed. A long-haired rabbit might provide something like wool. I was thinking about households that kept chickens in the house, killing them as needed. Perhaps a pig, goat, or raccoon (or something new for your world) to eat scraps, like bones. When it's fat enough, they toss it in the stewpot and get a new one.

Perhaps they bring back fruits or plant fruit trees to attract small animals. This should be safe from others, as they don't care about the fruit. It's the animals that they want. Of course, if they're fruit eaters, that won't work.

If they eat insects, perhaps an ant farm. Do they like sweets? Perhaps a beehive.

Homes could be built in locations that are only accessible from the air. E.g. on the sides of mountains. They might look for places close to a stream or even a waterfall. Perhaps they encourage streams to follow a helpful path by digging trenches.

Their doors are likely to be above ground level. Some may roost on perches off the ground, but the children are likely to be at ground level. If there is a pit, it is probably surrounded by walls (like wells are). Their ceilings are likely to be quite strong. They may even cover them with dirt. This is because an attack from above is quite conceivable to them. It will be the kind of attack they expect.

They may have a fireplace, surrounded by walls. They could then build nests around the fireplace so that the eggs stay warm without nesting adults. So all the adults can leave at once if necessary.

They might have small but multifamily households. The males and some of the females go out for food while some of the other females stay home and guard the nesting place. This might also allow more agriculture. Perhaps all the females stay home and all the males go out.

They would tend to think in terms of verticals. The land above them on the mountain is risky (people could attack from there). The land below them is vulnerable; they may attack people or creatures there. That's what they consider to be their hunting ground.

A mountain pass might be "owned" by some cooperating groups. If they see humans entering, they'll fly down and insist on their toll. Perhaps only a small group lands for negotiations while more watch from above. If the toll is often paid in food, they might group more thickly there than elsewhere. Similar behavior for a convenient stream. Want to drink the water? Pay the toll.


Okay, I'm starting to get an image of these guys. Aggressive but territorial, proud and disdainful. I see them as being torn between several impulses... They want to spread apart and be away from competitors and lesser beings. They need to cluster together for mutual protection and cooperative industries. They want to keep their families close -- until they tire of them. These stresses might leave these folks on a hair-trigger, jumpy and easily provoked.


They need space. Their buildings tend to be large and not sub-divided. Think Viking great halls, 2 or 3 stories high, one giant room. This allows room for short flights inside. There might be "sulking perches" on the periphery where proud avians can get away and calm down, to avoid the need for violence.

A dwelling is owned by one individual. When an avian takes a mate (not sure if these guys are exogamous or exandrous, either works, assume wife comes to live with husband) the mate moves in for as long as they can tolerate one another. The wife keeps her own house, if she owned one, and rents it out. Assets are not commingled. Decorations ... highly contingent, but let's imagine they are all about the puppets. I see little furniture for these guys, but lots of wall hangings; mosaic floors; and weird fetishes hanging from strings from the ceiling.

Factory / workshop buildings follow a similar pattern. Common areas are in the center, with plenty of room to escape. In fact, buildings will tend to have several exits, mostly well above ground level (suck it, ape-boys!).

This pattern of shared center / private periphery extends to the village as a whole. Public or commercial buildings will be near the center, and dwellings scattered further away. In areas where there are favorable terrain features (hat tip @Brythan ) such as cliffs or hills, buildings will perforce cluster closer together.

We note they fear predation and/or theft from one another. These guys invented the combination lock and heavy safes real early in their history... ;D


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