This is the region that was the center of the mighty kingdom of Aviontix, long, long ago.
It was the first great Human kingdom. Aviontix was a grand land, full of cities, and great stone works, and canals that brought water into the dry lands. They mastered magic. They worshiped the fleeting spirits that they saw symbolized as birds.
That was a long time ago. Time has a way of catching up on a society. Perhaps they thought themselves so immune to the sands of time, so great that they were the beginning and end of all things, that time caught up with them. Their society lost its greatness, through the variety of mean one expects: war, disease, internal strife, refusal to see the need for change, and younger, more vigorous neighbors. The society did not end, it simply petered out. No one was able to maintain the great magics, or the universities, or the roads. It all slipped into the sand. Thus the great stone buildings, roads, and public works have all turned to rubble.
Where once there was a thriving urban peoples, there are just semi-nomadic herders. These are the descendents of those who moved out of the cities and estates to make a life for themselves when the water stopped flowing. Unable to farm, they turned to their beasts to eke out a living here.
They travel in clan groups, several related families working together. they run from groups of thirty to a hundred. At any one time, some herding, some crafting, some training, some are teaching, and some resting.
They are a literate people, having a tradition of words that goes back to the beginning of Human time. While they might not know their full history, they do keep track of their current times. Books are precious here.
These people are riders. Their horses are some of the finest in the world. They have the skills to match them. They use them to move their herds along the rocky and sandy hills looking for feed and water.
Yet while they are experts in horsecraft, they are known far and wide for their falconry. They are the masters of the craft, breeding and training the finest hunting birds in the world. They no longer worship the bird spirits like they once did, but they respect the animals and have an understanding of them unmatched anywhere in the world. Their hunting birds of all breeds have an intelligence unequalled by birds anywhere in the world.
Every male over the age of 13 has one bird companion. It is their symbol of adulthood. (Many females have them too, but they are not required at 13.) These nomads use them to hunt and to assist in herding. They carry messages. They are released from service upon the death of their companion, allowed to return to the wilds, if they choose.
There are rumors of mystic links between men and their flying companions. It may be magic, or just skill and experience beyond most people’s understanding, or some combination of both. Such links could explain their ability with horses as well.
These people have magic in their bloods. They all know minor charms and how to charge trinkets. There are no longer any great wizards among them, they were hunted down and killed in the End Times of the Aviontix. That great knowledge was lost. But pieces are left behind. And it is passed on to the young.
These people are known to be traders. They are able to cross the great expanse that is Aviansis. They do not have to “go around” the expanse, allowing trade east to west in a fraction of the time. They also enter the outer lands and trade there as well.
So when you see the people wearing their strange loose fitting clothes, with sand masks and odd felt hats, and you see the birds, you will know where they are from and the history that has birthed them.