A tale of two Goatsuckers - Nightjars in Australian Aboriginal life

Date and Time: 
Friday, 13 April 2012 - 6:40pm to 7:00pm
Author(s): 
Gosford, Robert A - Ethnoornithology Research & Study Group

The Spotted Nightjar Eurostopodus argus and the Australian Owlet-nightjar Aegotheles cristatus are two nocturnal birds that are rarely seen but that figure prominently in Australian Aboriginal social and religious life. In this presentation I will discuss the role of these birds in Australian Aboriginal life and culture, exploring the depth and breadth of the occurrence of these birds in those domains. I will present two case studies - one examining the role of the birds as complementary but very different symbols of semi-moieties in the north of western Australia, the second looking at the role of the bird in the religious life of the Warlpiri people of the central deserts.