Aboriginal stories: The riches and colour of Australian birds

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Book Chapter

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Tidemann, S. C., & Whiteside, T. (2011). Aboriginal stories: The riches and colour of Australian birds. Ethno-Ornithology: Birds and Indigenous people, culture and society (153-179). London: Earthscan.

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2011 HERDC submission. FoR code: 210101

© Copyright Dr Sonia Tidemann and Dr Andrew G. Gosler, 2010





Australian Aboriginal stories abound with depiction of birds. In more than 400 stories across 106 language groups, 116 species of birds could be identified, some more easily than others depending on the ornithological awareness of the reorder. The information in some of these stories reveals the Aborigines had knowledge of bird behaviour long before it was ‘discovered’ by ornithologist. Stories are a part of the fabric of Aboriginal culture, often indicating expected cultural behaviour, but also account for plumage characteristics, calls, habitat, food, the relationships between Earth and extraterrestrial objects, and interspecific behaviours of birds. Rarely is the Aboriginal knowledge linked with ‘scientific’ studies that would be the richer for embracing the ecological interrelationships that are a natural part of the holism of Aboriginal stories.

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This document has been peer reviewed.