Natures wonders: Aussie birds hunt with fire (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Thursday, January 11, 2018, 00:50 (103 days ago) @ David Turell

They literally pick up burn1ng sticks, set fire to grass and grab their fleeing prey:

"Three species of raptors — predatory birds with sharp beaks and talons, and keen eyesight — are widely known not only for lurking on the fringes of fires but also for snatching up smoldering grasses or branches and using them to kindle fresh flames, to smoke out mammal and insect prey.


"In total, the study authors identified 12 Aboriginal groups in which people described firsthand sightings of raptors deliberately setting new fires with smoldering brands salvaged from existing fires, acting on their own and cooperating with other birds.


"From their reports, a behavioral pattern emerged: Firehawks (also described as kitehawks, chickenhawks and, on several occasions by non-Aboriginals, s---hawks) purposely swiped burning sticks or grasses from smoldering vegetation — or even from human cooking fires — and then made off with the brands and dropped them into unburned areas to set them alight, presumably to drive out more prey.

"The range of the birds' reported fire stealing spans a significant area measuring approximately 1,490 by 620 miles (2,400 by 1,000 kilometers) across part of northern Australia, the scientists reported.


"Close collaboration with Aboriginal teams and individuals will be a critical part of studying the birds' use of fire and its relationship to the Australian tropical grasslands, which indigenous people have inhabited and managed with controlled burning for at least 50,000 years. Over millennia, Aboriginal people have accumulated an unparalleled understanding of this ecosystem and the animals that inhabit it — knowledge that is in danger of being lost as cultural traditions are abandoned by younger generations, Bonta explained.

"'Our work is a collaborative effort to help valorize indigenous knowledge of birds, particularly as known to the older generations — this is not simply 'folklore' but rather intricate ecosystem knowledge that is typically unparalleled even by most outsider experts," he said."

Comment: This is likely a learned behaviour past from generation to generation rather than instinct.. Birds have amazing abilities to find useful tools, and these are not crows.

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