View Full Version : These Birds of Prey Are Deliberately Setting Forests on Fire

03-31-2018, 05:01 AM
This story is from Sharpiefan's recent thread,

These Birds of Prey Are Deliberately Setting Forests on Fire
Even more proof Australian wildlife is nuts.

10 JAN 2018

It's pretty hot in Australia right now. A brutal heatwave that's incinerated temperature records (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-07/sydney-hits-its-highest-temperature-recorded-in-79-years/9309552) threatens devastating bushfires and to make matters worse, authorities have to contend with an ancient breed of flying arsonists that may as well be miniature dragons.

A new study incorporating traditional Indigenous Australian ecological knowledge describes the largely unknown behaviour of so-called 'firehawk raptors' birds that intentionally spread fire by wielding burning sticks in their talons and beaks.
These flying firestarters are spread across at least three known species the Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus), and Brown Falcon (Falco berigora) but while their hell-raising may be observed in Indigenous knowledge, that's not so elsewhere.
"Though Aboriginal rangers and others who deal with bushfires take into account the risks posed by raptors that cause controlled burns to jump across firebreaks, official skepticism about the reality of avian fire-spreading hampers effective planning for landscape management and restoration," the international team explains in their paper (http://www.bioone.org/doi/10.2993/0278-0771-37.4.700).

03-31-2018, 05:05 AM
Hmm, learned behaviour, fire drives food out into the open…………...

03-31-2018, 05:06 AM
Intentional Fire-Spreading by “Firehawk” Raptors in Northern Australia,” Bonta et al. Journal of Ethnobiology, 37(4) (abstract): http://bit.ly/2CJJFXX (https://t.co/JJVomc5zDy) #ethnobiology (https://twitter.com/hashtag/ethnobiology?src=hash) #ethnoornithology (https://twitter.com/hashtag/ethnoornithology?src=hash) #birds (https://twitter.com/hashtag/birds?src=hash) #fire (https://twitter.com/hashtag/fire?src=hash)
09:37 - 2 Jan 2018 (https://twitter.com/bgosford/status/947960078795026432)

While news of aerial arsonists fire-bombing the landscape may seem surprising or even shocking, the researchers are eager to emphasise that this destructive phenomenon has actually been witnessed for untold millennia.
"We're not discovering anything," one of the team, geographer Mark Bonta from Penn State Altoona, told National Geographic (https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/01/wildfires-birds-animals-australia/).

"Most of the data that we've worked with is collaborative with Aboriginal peoples… They've known this for probably 40,000 years or more."
According to the team, firehawk raptors congregate in hundreds along burning fire fronts, where they will fly into active fires to pick up smouldering sticks, transporting them up to a kilometre (0.6 miles) away to regions the flames have not yet scorched.
"The imputed intent of raptors is to spread fire to unburned locations – for example, the far side of a watercourse, road, or artificial break created by firefighters – to flush out prey via flames or smoke," the researchers write (http://www.bioone.org/doi/10.2993/0278-0771-37.4.700).
This behaviour, documented in interviews with the team and observed first-hand by some of the researchers, sees prey driven toward the raptors by a wall of flame, enabling them to engage in a feeding frenzy upon fleeing or scorched land animals.
The inspiration for the study came from a passage in the 1964 autobiography of Indigenous doctor and activist, Phillip Waipuldanya Roberts.
"I have seen a hawk pick up a smouldering stick in its claws and drop it in a fresh patch of dry grass half a mile away," he said (https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/01/wildfires-birds-animals-australia/), "then wait with its mates for the mad exodus of scorched and frightened rodents and reptiles."

Dave Hadfield
03-31-2018, 10:51 AM
There is rarely any pity in nature.

03-31-2018, 04:33 PM
There is rarely any pity in nature.
That is true.

S.V. Airlie
03-31-2018, 04:51 PM
Birds and animals are opportunists! Heck when I mowed my field, Starting the tractor brought at least one red-tailed hawk would show up and fly behind me waiting for the blades to turn up a few field mice or voles. If I went back inside, after turning the tractor off, it disappeared.Easy pickings!

03-31-2018, 05:02 PM
There is rarely any pity in nature.

Albert Einstein was once asked to describe nature in one word. He replied: hostile.


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