Aarakocra resemble humanoid birds. The average specimen stands about five feet tall and has a wingspan of twenty feet. Halfway along the edge of each wing is a hand with three human-sized fingers and an opposable thumb. An elongated fourth finger extends the length of the wing and locks in place during flight. The hands cannot grasp while flying, but are nearly as useful as human hands when an aarakocra is perched and its wings folded back. Their powerful legs end in four sharp talons that can unlock and fold back to reveal another pair of functional hands. These humanoids have hollow, fragile bones. Their faces combine the features of both parrots and eagles. They have gray-black beaks and black eyes. Plumage color varies, but males generally have red, orange, and yellow coloration, while females tend towards brown and gray.
Aarakocra inhabit high mountains in places far from human or goblin civilization.
Aarakocra live in small tribes of about 11-30 members. Each tribe has a hunting territory of about 10,000 square miles (26,000 km2) with colorful banners and pennants marking the boundaries.
Each tribe lives in a communal nest made of woven vines with a soft lining of dried grass. The eldest male serves as the tribe's leader. In tribes of more than 20 members, the second oldest male serves as the shaman, leading simple religious ceremonies involving the whistling of melodic hymns at sunset on the first day of a new month. Males spend most of their waking hours hunting for food and occasionally for treasure, such as gems and other shiny objects. Females spend eight months of the year incubating their eggs, passing the time by fabricating javelins and other tools from wood and stone. While resting on their backs, aarakocra females can use all four hands at the same time to weave boundary pennants, javelins sheaths, and other useful objects from vines and feathers.
Aarakocra have little to do with other species, including neighboring aarakocra tribes, and leave their home territory only in extreme circumstances. They rarely encounter humans except for an occasional foray into a rural community to snatch a stray farm animal; this is not an intentionally malicious act, as aarakocra are unable to distinguish between domestic and wild animals. A human venturing into aarakocra territory may be able to convince one to serve as a guide or a scout in exchange for a shiny jewel or coin.
Aarakocra are extremely claustrophobic and will not willingly enter a cave, building, or other enclosed area.
Five aarakocra, including a shaman, can summon an air elemental by chanting and performing an intricate aerial dance. The summoned air elemental will comply with the aarakocras' request for a favor, though it will not endanger its life on their behalf.