Tingmiat — Those That Fly

The Inuktitut name tingmiat, "those that fly", easily identifies the birds. Although both birds and their eggs are often eaten, they are not included with the animals that are staple prey items, the nirjutiit. Unlike other groups of animals, the birds are subdivided into several groups, based on their behaviour and feeding habits. One set of groupings refers to whether the birds are marine or terrestrial, a second divides them based on feeding habits, while another relates to their migratory status. Within these groups there are numerous smaller groups of species, more or less equivalent to the family level in scientific classification. Some of these divisions are only roughly defined and birds may be included in more than one category or fall in vague zones between groups. This reflects the Inuit point of view that a rigid classification system is neither necessary nor particularly useful. It is more important to be familiar with the habits and distribution of a particular species than to be able to place it in a specific category.