Djidi Djidi

Djidi Djidi by Paul Amyes on
The djidi djidi or Willy Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys leucophrys). York, Western Australia. Panasonic Lumix G85 with Panasonic LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/800 sec, f6.3 at ISO 640.


Willy Wagtails or Djidi Djidi as the Nyoongar call them can be found throughout the Australian bush. They are perhaps the most common bird in Western Australia. White fellas think of them as comical bossy little birds that will swoop larger animals and people in an effort to shoo them out of their territory. This is the Nyoongar story of how they came into being.

A long time ago there was a lazy old man called Wardong. Wardong was given the job of looking after the children while everyone went hunting. Wardong would lie in the shade under a tree and shout at the children to get them to bring him food and drink. Now the children got pretty fed up with being bossed around by Wardong, and being mischievous they decided to get their own back. So while the old man was sleeping the djidi djidi (mischievous ones) they took his food away and then began to run round and round him tormenting him. This made Wardong really mad, and the madder he got the more the djidi djidi tormented him. Suddenly he couldn’t take any more and he did some magic and turned all the little children into little birds. With that Wardong went back to his tree, lay down and went to sleep with a big smile on his face. When everybody returned from hunting that evening they asked Wardong where all the children were. The children seeing their parents and grand parents started flying around and crying asking to be turned back, but there was nothing that could be done. The elders were furious and called Wardong a lazy good for nothing scavenger. One of them went even further and said “Wardong you will be a scavenger for the rest of your life!” And with that he turned Old Wardong into a crow. Wardong is the Nyoongar name for crows. Now if you go into the bush you will see that the djidi djidi can’t stand to have wardong anywhere near them and when they see him they fly round and round his head tormenting him until he goes away.