Jadurru Indigenous Art

How The Birds Got Their Colours

How the Birds Got Their Colours, Indiginenous Art by Jimmy Deen

Back in Dreamtime all the bird tribes were the same colour, and that was black. One day this peaceful Dove caught his foot on a sharp prong of wood on a broken off tree branch. The Dove called out for help, and all the other bird tribes heard his cry and came to the place where he laid. The Dove was in great pain and his foot had swollen up, and the other birds gathered and provided shelter for him with their wings. Some brought water for him to drink and some bathed his foot with water. Except for Crow, who was in a bad mood and was angered by the attention the other birds were giving the little Dove.

Crow harangued the other birds and told them that they were wasting their time, the peaceful Dove was done for. The Dove’s foot was festering and swelling more all the time. But the other birds didn’t care what the crow thought, they decided they had enough of him and chased him away. Then the Galah had an idea, she rushed over and bit the Dove’s swollen foot with her sharp, hooked beak. The Dove cried out in pain and all the colours in nature flowed out of the Dove’s foot and splashed all over every bird gathered around. Some got only a little colour, some got one or two colours, but the Rainbow Lorikeet was splashed with so much colour he looked like the rainbow itself.

The Galah was splashed with rosy pink and grey, and the little peaceful Dove was almost drained of colour till he was a light mottled grey-brown. And so it was that all the bird tribes got their beautiful colours, except for the selfish bad tempered Crow who remains in his original black to this day.


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