Barking Owl didgeridoo

To: Philip Veerman <>
Subject: Barking Owl didgeridoo
From: john harris via Canberrabirds <>
Date: Mon, 25 Jan 2021 23:52:47 +0000
Yes, you are right to think that the Barking Owl may be the origin of that didjeridoo sound.  Many of the traditional didjeridoo sounds were imitations of natural sounds - birds, dingoes etc. Good didgeridoo players create their own repertoire of imitated sounds. For your hypothesis to be correct, it is important that BO is found in coastal North Australia where the didgeridoo originated. The instrument has been adopted by southern Aboriginal people and made their own. Few of them may actually have heard a BO well enough to want to imitate it and they may be copying northern instrumentalists. On the other hand, the Kookaburra sounds are popular with southern didgeridoo players. The northern Blue-winged Kookaburra does not have that familiar call. The word Kookaburra is of course a southern Aboriginal word imitative of the call itself.

On 26 Jan 2021, at 8:59 am, Philip Veerman <> wrote:

Having just watched the Barangaroo Australia day ceremony on ABC TV, I noted that at the start there was a one minute’s silence item during which one didgeridoo was performed, the only comment made was that it was marking the dawn. However quite unlike the usual long drone sound, the performance seemed to me as an exact copy of the woof woof call of the Barking Owl (BO) and nothing else. The tone and spacing of notes was obvious (to me). The bird call is such a distinctive sound and before we removed habitat and made the BO rare through most of Aus, it must surely have been very notable to aboriginal people around Aus. Is there likely to be that connection. Just a thought. Any comments?
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