Tulugaq, Tulugaaq, Tulugait…
I’ve always been fond of this picture, and since I am currently twiddling thumbs in Arctic Bay with no internet connection to speak of, I decided to do up a short post introducing the ubiquitous Arctic Raven who appears in this suitably Hallowe’en-like photograph.
There is no shortage of avian species here in the Territory, but only a few are commonly seen. Seagulls and the tiny snow-buntings make an appearance for a few months a year, and there are geese and ptarmigan as well, but the one bird, known to all Nunavummiut is the raven, known up here as the ‘Tulugaq’….
By the way, the title of this post gives a chance to mention an interesting little linguistic tidbit. Inuktitut, one of the official languages in this Territory, employs a ‘one, two, many…’ counting system and this is reflected grammatically in speech. Whereas noun forms in English, and most other tongues, have a singular and plural, Inuktitut has a dual form as well. Accordingly, one can speak of one fish (Iqaluk), or two fish (Iqaluuk), while many fish is ‘Iqaluit’ (also the name of my home community). With the raven, of course, we have Tulugaq, Tulugaaq, and Tulugait.
While still living in our old house, I used to feed the Tulugait regularly out on our back deck. Here, you can see a couple feasting on some chicken hearts I bought for them.
The Tulugait really have an amazing vocal range. They have the same squawks and shrieks as other species but they also make a lot of different noises that don’t sound remotely bird-like at all. One particular call I hear frequently always reminds me of the music from a toy jack-in-the-box I had as a child and is quite eerie sometimes.
Our cats have as much fascination with these birds as do I. ‘Grey Kitty’ has actually taken a run at one or two of them (although Lord knows what he would do if he actually caught one), but here he just had a brief conversation with a visiting lunch guest.
I took this picture down in Kimmirut several months ago. The pup in the picture had some sort of treat that he managed to scarf down before the Tulugait were able to get it away from him. Here in Iqaluit, I have watched many times when a gaggle (flock, gang?) of the birds will distract a dog from its food bowl while one their number sneaks in and eats. They repeat this time and time again, although I have never been able to tell if it is the same bird going in for a snack, or if they take turns!
Anyway, I hope you found this look at the Tulugait just a little interesting. It certainly diverted me for a brief time as I sit in my hotel room and await our departure aboard the Court Charter flight to Resolute…