This painting depicts one of many ‘jurlpu’ (bird) species that live
around Yuendumu. The bush around Yuendumu provides many
different habitats for birds to live in. Many bird species live
around waterholes and rivers, like the ‘pirniny-pirninypa’ (black
fronted dotterel [Elseyornis melanops]) and Ngatijirri
(budgerigar [Melopsittacus undulates]). Others live in the
spinifex country, like the ‘nuwiyingki’ or ‘panngarra’ (cockatiel
[Nymphicus hollandicus]). Still others make nests in trees, like
the ‘juwayikirdi’ (grey crowned babbler [Pomatostomus
People hunt some of these species for meat. The most popular
species to hunt today are the ‘yankirri’ (emu [Dromaius
novaehollandiae]) and ‘wardilyka’ (bush turkey [Ardeotis
australis]). People also used to hunt ‘yupurru’ (spinifex pigeon
[Geophaps plumifera]) and ‘ngapilkiri’ (crested pigeon
[Ocyphaps lophotes]), among others.
A number of bird species tell people messages. Several species
tell people when rain is coming, including the ‘jintirr-jintirrpa’
(willy wagtail [Rhipidura leucophrys]) and ‘kalwa’ (crane). The
cries of other birds, like the ‘kirrkalanji’ (brown falcon [Falco
berigora]) and ‘ngamirliri’ (bush stone curlew [Burhinus
grallarius]), can make children sick. The ‘paku-paku’ (crested
bellbird [Oreoica gutturalis]) and ‘kurlukuku’ (diamond dove
[Geopelia cuneata]) are messengers of love songs.
People also use messages from birds to help them hunt. The
‘juwayikirdi’ (grey crowned babbler [Pomatostomus
temporalis]) and ‘piirn-piirnpa’ (yellow throated miner
[Manorina flavigula]) cry when goannas are nearby. People
know to run quickly when these birds cry, so that they can
catch the goannas.
In Warlpiri culture, ‘jurlpu’ (birds) are associated with a
number of different ‘Jukurrpa’ (Dreaming) stories. Some are
even associated with major ceremonies, including the
Jardiwarnpa fire ceremony.