Higher Education: Manaus College
Born to a avian hunter species on a state-of-nature reservation world, Tay was drawn to the visiting alien 'tourist' races and their technology at a young age. More interested in technology and interstellar culture than hunter-gatherer survival skills, she applied for and was granted off planet scholarships at a young age. She received primary and secondary education at Manaus College in Earth's Amazon basin, selected as a rain forest environment is similar to the Nightwing home world. The Xeno Studies department considered her as much an alien to be studied as a student. She attended one semester at Starfleet Academy, but had difficulty adjusting to cold climates, city life, and a large dense population. Returned to Manaus College to complete her schooling, though her course work was slanted towards eventual Starfleet service.
Tay's species evolved for a highly complex and dangerous wilderness environment. They have highly sensitive senses, including an unusual sonar echoing ability, with corresponding intelligence and memory. As such, they are able to adapt to technological societies.
Nightwing communities are organized as hunting prides. The alpha is the only male to breed. Pair bonding instincts common to many races are missing. There is a strong division of labor by gender, with males defending territory, while young females hunt and more mature females protect and teach the young. There is a strong tribal bond. The society is communal. Among the females, group relationships and goals are more important than individual achievement. While intellectually she has studied and worked with diverse sentient cultures, her own people's emotions and values remain.
There are also physical differences. As an arboreal people, living in tree tops, the Nightwing never developed fire. Thus, their digestive systems are optimized for fruit and raw meat diets, not for grains or cooked food. They are nocturnal, yet daylight in the high trees is not fully safe. Thus, they have evolved a 'lurking' mode, similar to sleep, yet they remain alert to changes in their environment. They are neither properly warm blooded, nor cold blooded. To conserve energy, they can allow body temperatures to drop, while exertion rapidly brings temperatures up to more effective levels. They are optimized for rain forest high heat conditions. Their wings function as heat synchs, expanded and pumped mildly to cool the body after exertion. To minimize weight, they carry a minimum of body fat, and thus have relatively light long term energy reserves. They tend to eat smaller but more frequent meals than most species. Optimized for flight, they are very strong for their weight, but very light. They are not suitable for many highly physical tasks, and are more fragile than many 'ground crawling' species. Their highly flexible metabolism gives them many advantages, but requires care. Frequent alterations between high and low energy states, prolonged exertion, lack of food or other considerations can result in medical conditions similar to insulin shock in humans.
There are apt to be culture shock issues as well. Most will be minor. Half in jest, she is apt to insist that species with talons do not use silverware, and that if God had intended ground crawling species to fly, they would have been given wings. More seriously, males of her species defend territory, hold their ground, delay attackers long enough for the females and young to flee. Females hunt. Thus, Tay is apt to be very uncomfortable in a stand up conflict, but enthusiastic about ambush tactics.
Nightwing hearing and vocal abilities evolved for ultrasonic echo sounding. Among themselves, they have a highly complex multi threaded language. Other races, not evolved for echo sounding, can seldom hear it, very rarely learn to understand more than the primary thread, and never manage to speak it with any fluency whatever. (There are tales that among the Nightwing, stories of infinite wonders to be found among the stars -- wealth, magic machines, freedom from the dangers of the jungle -- but the cost is that one needs to be part of a pride to learn to sing.) Tay, separated from her people at a young age, would no longer be considered a adequate singer. While a few Nightwing can speak ground crawler one word at a time low frequency word based communications, most, like Tay, use sign language or key what they wish to say into translators. Tay can understand conventional languages well enough, but duplicating low frequency sounds is so awkward she seldom attempts it. Rather, she has programmed her tricorder to interpret ASL, and verbalize. She does downpitch her basic echo-sound, 'tay,' and can modulate it in pitch, volume and intensity to convey emotion and basic information. Her one word vocabulary is entirely adequate to convey 'yes,' 'yes, sir', 'no,' 'danger,' 'sorry,' 'you idiot,' or 'generic highly insulting expletive'. More complex conversation requires ASL or a translator.
Due to the inability of most other species to pronounce the proper names of Nightwing -- which are basically an imitation of their own echo pulse -- all non-Nightwing tend to call all Nightwing 'Tay.'
LCARS access : http://polyticks.com/tay/