Garuda--Contest Entry Picture

Category A: Create your own race

Garuda are a race of desert-dwelling half-bird, half-man creatures. They stand upright on two legs and possess mostly human characteristics. Their hands and feet resemble talons more than they do their human counterparts. The legs below the knee are scaly and rough with large, curved claws instead of feet, with two toes in back and three in front. These claws work in much the same way that a bird's would; the two back toes act as a sort of double-thumb which allows the garuda to grip and hold things in their feet. The disadvantage to this (which disables full-time use of the talons as grabbing and holding apparatuses) is that the garudas' legs bend backwards only and therefore cannot bend forward for use in conjunction with the hands. As for the hands of a garuda, they are covered with normal, human skin but retain the claw-like characteristics of talons. Apart from the hands and feet, another distinguishing trait of a garuda is the presence of feathers. Both males and females have feathers growing from their scalps as well as hair, but females tend to have more and longer feathers. In some individuals, the whole head is covered in feathers as opposed to hair. Both genders of the species have large, peacock-like tails which are usually held down but may be spread into a fan shape. The fan is generally used to make the individual garuda look larger and more menacing. It also looks nice and impressive, and, as garuda value aesthetics highly, this is a general plus. The tail can be used to find a suitable mate as well but, through evolution, most garuda have discarded the idea that a mate has to have an impressive tail and have moved on to dating and socializing as humans do.

Though they are not as noticeable as feathers or talons, the eyes of a garuda are very hawkish in that they are big, rounded-almond-shaped eyes with irises that cover the entire visible eye. The pupils are usually vertical slits but in some subspecies, the pupil may be completely circular or horizontal. The eyes are also accompanied by long, dark eyelashes which are used to keep sand and sun out of the eye. In males, there is a dark patch below each eye which acts in much the same way that a football player's black face paint does--it keeps the sun from reflecting from the paler skin and into the eyes. In females, longer eyelashes compensate for the lack of these marks. In some subspecies, the males may have large, impressive wings, but it is rare and usually only occurs in tree-dwelling variants, and when it does occur, the tail is compromised. Body markings may also vary from subspecies to subspecies, being anywhere from random spots on the back, arms, legs, face, and ribcage to full-out markings of an owl, hawk, peacock, etc. It all depends on which species of bird the particular garuda variant identifies with most closely.

The individual garuda is thin and wiry but very powerful for its compact size. They may look emaciated in many cases but this is an example of a healthy garuda. Obesity is next to nonexistent and when it does occur, the individual usually dies because of the lifestyle of a garuda. Males tend to be a lot taller than the females as average male height is around six feet four inches. Females are comparatively short when next to males and their human counterparts with an average height of five feet. The height difference has no bearing on individual power--females can easily hold their own in battle or in the hunt because of their higher stamina. Males do the grunt work, the heavy lifting, whereas the females do the chasing and endurance parts of the work. Hunting is a team effort and weapons may or may not be used depending on the prey. Both sexes have hollow bones, therefore making garuda much lighter than they look. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage because they are both agile and easily thrown around. Despite being hollow, the bones are very flexible and do not break easily.

Avian physical attributes aside, garuda tend to be very tan with vibrantly colored hair and eyes. All colors of the rainbow are represented in the plumage of the garuda, but in the most common subspecies, the phoenix variant, plumage is warm and colored in red, orange, yellow, and sepia. There are green parrot variants as well as brown and grey in the hawk and owl variants and some rare subspecies show blue (peacock, blue macaw), purple (hyacinth macaw), and white (snowy owl, egret, arctic partridge). For the most part, though, garuda show traits of the mythical phoenix in their resistance to heat and fire as well as in their uncanny ability to cheat death or emerge from seemingly impossible situations without a scratch on them. The desert preference is also a trait of the phoenix garuda but other variants may also appear in rainforests, plains, temperate zones, and even (most rarely of all) in tundra or icefield conditions. Their vision is very keen as is their sense of hearing. Their sense of smell is much less used and therefore nearly doesn't exist. Garuda also have a bit of a sixth sense when it comes to predicting upcoming weather. In this respect, they are excellent in the field of agriculture though most prefer to hunt fresh meat. Their diet consists primarily of large herdbeasts, smaller herbivores, and of course, wild and domesticated fowl. Grains and vegetables are almost unheard of in the garuda's diet, but many garuda enjoy fruit and seed almost as well as they enjoy meat due to the type of bird the particular subspecies identifies with.

Garuda are also known for their peculiar mannerisms. They are twitchy and mechanical in their movements, much like a bird. All movements are quick and fluttery but also very deliberate considering the speed. When nervous, garuda will wobble back and forth and claw the ground. When happy, cold, or wish to be intimidating, they fluff their feathers up. When bored, many garuda will find shiny objects or objects that make interesting sounds and amuse themselves with that until otherwise distracted. The crow and raven variants especially love shiny objects and oftentimes get in trouble for their bad habit of stealing valuables. Garuda tend to have higher, chirpy voices and many talk in both human tongues as well as birdish tongues. They are unique in that they possess both a larynx and a syrinx and are capable of "singing" like a bird and talking like a human. When eating, they'll quickly put the food in their mouths whole and then chew it rapidly and not very thoroughly. They possess a crop which takes care of the larger pieces of unchewed food and must also consume some kind of crushing agent to store in the crop. When fighting or when under attack, they'll first let out a distress cry and then they will attack with their feet. Their hands are hardly ever used in combat. Many sleep standing or leaning because of their amazing leg strength and, because of their cumbersome tails/wings, they cannot lie in bed as a person does. When talking animatedly, garuda oftentimes muddle their words into a series of chirps and human sounds which is very confusing for non-garuda but easily understood by another garuda. They stretch often and are very flexible. Many will bend nearly in half backwards, grab a foot and bring it over their heads, and twist themselves into strange shapes in general. To watch, they appear very spastic from a human's point of view, but to a garuda, anything other than spastic and twitchy is slow, awkward, and strange.


Well, that's it. Mad props to Endling for holding this contest because I've been toying with the idea of this race of bird people for a while and now, I have a clear idea of how they act and also a space where all my information is organized. Oh, and the name "garuda" comes from Hindu mythology. They were a race of bird people who associated with the gods. They had parrot-like heads and were entirely covered in feathers. All had wings and I'm pretty sure they had tails, but I could be wrong. In short, they were more like anthropomorphized birds than my above description. I felt the need to make them even more human and glamorize them a bit.

Good luck to everyone else who entered the contest! We're all doing our best, I'm sure. <3.14

P.S.: Ignore the fact that number four has no tail. I forgot to draw it. n___n;
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