Bird is the word - doing ethnoornithology on Kayteyte country

GOSFORD, Robert - Ethnoornithology Research & Study Group
TURPIN, Dr Myfany - University of Queensland

The Kaytetye are an Indigenous people whose country lies 300km north of Alice Springs in Australia's Northern Territory. In April 2014 we—an ornithologist and linguist—conducted four days of fieldwork with senior Kaytetye speakers on their homelands to understand their knowledge of birds. In an effort to clarify a number of anomalous and outstanding issues in localized bird species identification and classification we used a multi-modal methodological approach: flash cards and audio files of birds restricted to the region. Here we present preliminary results of this fieldwork and analyze the effectiveness of these and other tools for the elicitation of bird identification and local traditional bird knowledge. In particular, we found that using bird calls as a stimulus for discussion revealed ecological knowledge such as temporal and spatial (height) distribution of birds, the use of bird names as personal names and onomatopoeic basis of many Kaytetye bird names.