In the furry fandom, an avian, also known as featheries, is a bird or bird-like character and/or person who generally identifies with said phenotype. As characters, this includes real birds, anthropomorphic birds, fantasy birds, and bird variants such as gryphons or cockatrices.
Anthropomorphic avians can be broadly classed as either bird or griffin-anthropomorph. The differences between mammal and bird anatomy can result in difficult questions when designing an anthropomorphic character.
- Arms: In real birds, wings are extended forelimbs with long, strong feathers, meaning that a direct anthropomorphization would result in a being with wings instead of arms. There are four main ways around this:
- "Toony" wings, in which the wing feathers double as fingers. This is frequently seen in cartoons but is very unrealistic.
- Normal wings, in which the character possesses regular bird wings, which is possibly the most popular option.
- "Wing arms", which are wings modified into arms. This takes into account the wing's evolutionary history as a forelimb, which often shows claws on wings. This feature can be seen today in a vestigial form in juveniles hoatzins.
- Back-mounted wings, and arms; this is the second most popular option, as it enables flight and dexterity, but that can also be achieved by all other options as birds grip onto objects with their feet and talons.
Sexual anatomy and reproduction
- Some male avians have a phallus, including ostrich, emu, rhea, ducks, geese, and swans. However, many artists draw anthropomorphic avian characters with a phallus regardless of species. Less ambiguity is a major advantage of griffins, in which the rear half is not avian. In real life, most male birds deposit sperm in the female through their cloacae, but cloacae are extremely rare on male avian characters anyway.
- Breasts on females? These are often the only clear indication of gender, but real birds, not being mammals, lack them.
- Oviposition is the avian process of laying eggs for (normally) reproduction (a process shared by scalies, fish and monotremes). They're usually laid with the help of a very human-like set of reproductive organs (vagina, vulva, uterus, etc.), despite real female birds possessing a cloaca (or "vent") instead, passing eggs through what is essentially an anus. Female avians usually lay multiple eggs at once, whereas real birds lay one a day over the course of a period of time.
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