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 temporalis]).
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.