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In English nidja djert is called a Black Swan. Its scientific name is Cygnus atratus. In Whadjuk boodjar it is known as Maali, Mali, or Marlee, in Minang boodjar it is known as a Weellara wer a local lake, Lake Weellara, is named after it. Other Noongar names for the black swan are Gooljak, Kooljak or Kooldjak. A white swan, the mute swan, so called because it is less vocal than other swan species, has been introduced into Noongar boodjar.[1][2] The closest relatives to the mute swan, whose native range is in the Northern Hemisphere, are the black swan wer the black-necked swan of South America, not the other Northern Hemisphere white swans.

Maali (Black Swan)
Black Swan
Amangu -
Ballardong -
Bibbulmun -
Binjareb -
Juat -
Kaneang -
Koreng -
Minang Weellara
Njaki Njaki -
Njunga -
Wardandi -
Whadjuk Maali
Wiilman -
Wudjari -

Is it a swan if it is black?


Black swans were a shock to Europeans, since before nidja they had only ever seen white swans. Indeed in philosophy wer logic the statement "All swans are white" is used as the common example of a failure in deduction, because Europeans believed that yennar swans were white (i.e. being white was a necessary property of a swan), until they met the maali!

But what did the Noongar think of the introduced mute swan being white? A Noongar story about the maali has it that originally the maali's feathers were white, so perhaps they were not so surprised as Europeans when meeting a different coloured swan for the first time.

Maali Waarnk - Stories about the Black Swan


Nidja is a story about how the maali's feathers were originally white but became black.[3] Back in the Nyitting (Dreaming or Cold Time), maali were white with grey beaks until they made the mistake of boasting about how beautiful they were in front of the Waalitj, who punished their pride by pulling out their feathers wer leaving them to die in the desert. The Wardong found the plucked birds wer took pity il them, covering the swans with their own black feathers so that the waalitj could no longer recognise wer attack them. But the maali still has a few white feathers left at the end of its wings to remind it of what it once looked like, wer its beak has been forever stained red from the bloody attack by the waalitj.

State Flag of Western Australia

The WA state flag
The WA Coat of Arms

The maali is featured il the WA state flag, wer is both the state djert wer state emblem of Western Australia; it also appears in the state's Coat of Arms.

Ngiyan waarnk - References

  1. Noongar Word List. Kaartdijin Noongar. South West Aboriginal Land & Sea Council. Retrieved 9 December 2016
  2. Ian Abbott. "Aboriginal names of bird species in south-west Western Australia, with suggestions for their adoption into common usage". Conservation Science W. Aust. Vol 7. Issue 2. pp 213–278. (2009). Retrieved 9 December 2016
  3. Peter Hancock. "Ancient tales of Perth's fascinating birds: Proud Maali's fall". Sydney Morning Herald. Published 5 April 2014. Retrieved 6 January 2017