The story of
Toorittya - The Wattle Bird

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The Tasmanian Aboriginal Story, Toorittya - The Wattle Bird, explains why the bird looks and sounds as it does today.

According to the story, bush spirits have always looked after the land, the animals, and the plants that supply the food. And they always share the food around.

One summer was particularly hot. There was not much rain, so food was hard to come by. Imagine the delight for the spirits on discovering a green gum tree covered in blossoms. The roots of the tree reached down into a creek that flowed from a mountain far away. This is why there was food here.

The spirits immediately let the other creatures in the bush know about their find.

But suddenly a big bird landed on the tree and chased the animals away. It stuck its beak into the nectar of a branch so quickly that nectar splashed around. The spirits saw this and laughed. They knew that the tree would not be happy about such greed and waste and that something would happen.

True enough when the bird tried to move to another branch it found that it could not. It was stuck by its feet in the nectar. In the meantime there was a stream of yellow nectar on each side of its beak.

The bird screamed out to the spirits for help, It screamed so much that soon its voice changed and became ugly. It was a sound like no other.

The spirits could not stand the noise and asked the tree to set the bird free. The spirits deemed that from then on, the bird would be known as Toorittya, the noisy one and would always have the nectar yellow on its face. The colour would remind it that it should not be so greedy.

And the Wattle Bird has been this way ever since.

Source of information on this page:
Taraba: Tasmanian Aboriginal Stories, Hobart, DECCD, 1997.

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