In Pitjantjatjara country we know that the local name for Rhipidura leucophrys is tjintir-tjintirpa. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the scientific name, if you’re musically inclined and have an ear for Australian bird songs, you might recognise tjintir-tjintirpa as an onomatopoeic rendition of the ratcheting call of the Willie Wagtail.
The recognition and application of traditional knowledge of birds is increasingly appreciated as a valuable tool for contemporary societies to re-engage with the knowledge of past generations and to provide opportunities to inform modern land and species management for the benefit of species, landscapes and societies. Across the world, local language and cultural groups are recognising the value of ethnoornithology and ethnobiological methodologies, including as tools for inter-generational transfer of knowledge and engaging mainstream land managers with indigenous cultures and societies.
Apart from all-to-frequent roadkill there isn't much to see along the 400 or so kilometres of the Carpentaria Highway that runs from the Stuart Highway at Daly Waters to the coast just east of the small town of Borroloola.
What is a dead bird worth? Bob Gosford talks to Dr. Nate Rice of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philadelphia about his life and work with 200,000 dead birds.
The most substantial single source of Aboriginal bird knowledge in the mainstream ornithological literature was John Gould's "Handbook to The Birds of Australia", published in 1865. I've not been able to find a replacement candidate as the primary source - and much of the information contained therein was collected by one of Gould's collectors, John Gilbert, who was taken from us too soon in 1845 while on a cross-country expedition with Ludwig Leichhardt.