Centre for Australian Languages and Linguistics


Bird Apps | A Getting in Touch project

Senior language consultants from a number of different language groups are currently working on a set of apps about birds.

These apps are presenting bird pictures, the sound of bird calls, the names of birds and short stories in language.

The languages that are part of the Indigenous bird app project so far are: Kaytetye, Eastern/Central Arrernte, Pertame, Anmatyerr, Murrinh Patha, Mawng and Gun-nartpa.

Arrernte ayeye thipe-akerte | Arrernte stories about birds

Margaret Kemarr (MK) Turner and Therese Ryder are senior Arrernte language custodians and knowledge holders. They are both steadily working on documenting Arrernte birds, through stories and art. Both MK and Therese are building an app as part of this process and both apps are part of wider projects.

Therese is a respected Arrernte artist who is well-known for her watercolour landscapes. She is also a language teacher with a long career in Arrernte education and resource production. Her app is a partner for a book, and both the app and book are illustrated by her bird paintings.

MK is using her app as a way to guide family members to learn more about birds, their habitats, the plants they eat and cultural meanings that they have.

Akatwengetwenge Red-capped Robin, by Therese Ryder.

The first app produced through Getting in Touch was the Thangkerne Kaytetye bird app, which was published in August 2015 at Neutral Junction School.

This work is part of the Getting in Touch project, which aims to build the profile of Indigenous languages in digital form, through apps and other digital resources. Getting in Touch is a collaborative project which involves language consultants, the Research Unit for Indigenous Language at the University of Melbourne and the NT Language Support program at Batchelor Institute.

The Indigenous Bird Apps are built on the open source Jila framework, proudly created by Thoughtworks and customised for this project by Ben Foley.

More about Getting in Touch

Women singing awelye ‘traditional women’s healing songs’. Margaret Kemarr Turner painted this artwork for the Arrernte bird app that she is working on, along with other women in her family. The work shows the women painted and decorated for ceremony, wearing feathers from birds in their headdresses. They are singing for the health of the country – birds, people, other animals and plants.

Artworks on this page are licenced for the Indigenous Bird App project, and used with permission.

Women singing awelye © Margaret Kemarr Turner 2016

Akatwengetwenge Red-capped Robin © Therese Ryder 2016

Bird call and song audio reproduced under licence from David Stewart, Nature Sounds

We thank the many photographers who have contributed bird images to this project

We also acknowledge the work of Alison Ross, Myfany Turpin and senior Kaytetye knowledge holders on the Cultural Signs project, which led to the Indigenous bird poster series and inspired the Bird App project.