For Australia’s fire-starting falcons, pyromania serves up the prey

first_imgArticle published by Shreya Dasgupta Australia’s indigenous peoples have long spoken of birds of prey intentionally starting bushfires to flush out prey.In a new study, researchers have now compiled observations and anecdotes from scientific reports, firefighters and Aboriginal peoples to get a better understanding of how such bird-caused fires spread in Australia’s Northern Territory.Overall, most instances of fire-spreading by birds seem to be intentional, the authors say, but it is hard to say how common such fires are. Some birds in Australia use smoldering sticks to spread wildfires and flush out smaller birds, insects, frogs and other prey, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Ethnobiology.This fire-spreading behavior isn’t a new discovery, the authors of the study say. Australia’s indigenous peoples have long spoken of “firehawks” — a generic term for the black kite (Milvus migrans), whistling kite (Haliastur sphenurus) and brown falcon (Falco berigora) — intentionally spreading fires in the country’s tropical savannas. But much of the examples remain fragmented.So the researchers compiled observations and anecdotes from scientific reports, firefighters and Aboriginal peoples to get a better understanding of how such bird-caused fires spread in Australia’s Northern Territory. Some compelling examples came from the co-authors of the study.Co-author and former firefighter Dick Eussen, for instance, was fighting a blaze at the Ranger uranium mine near Kakadu, Northern Territory, in the 1980s when he was alerted to a new blaze on the unburned side of the road.“He drove over and put it out, noting a whistling kite flying about 20 meters [66 feet] in front of him with a smoking stick in its talons,” the authors write in the study. “It dropped the stick and smoke began to curl from the dry grass, starting a spot fire that had to be immediately extinguished. In all, he put out seven fires, all caused by the kites.”Whistling kites are common birds of prey in Australia. Photo by Athena Ferreira via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0). Animals, Biodiversity, Birds, Birds Of Prey, Conservation, Environment, Fires, Forest Fires, Green, Raptors, Research, Savannas, wildfires, Wildlife Hawks hunting in and around a controlled brushfire, Mount Etna Caves National Park, Central Queensland. The birds are a mixture of black kites and whistling kites. Photo by Mark Marathon via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0).Citation:Bonta, M. et al. (2018). Intentional Fire-Spreading by “Firehawk” Raptors in Northern Australia. Journal of Ethnobiology. 37(4):700-718.center_img Nathan Ferguson, also a co-author and officer-in-charge of a fire station in the Barkly Tablelands, initially discounted reports of fire-spreading by birds. But after years of experience he “has learned to incorporate the possibility of avian fire-spreading as a variable in bushfire management,” the authors write. In 2016, for example, Ferguson observed a few kites “successfully seizing burning sticks in their beaks, sometimes switching them to their talons, transporting them over 50 meters [164 feet], dropping them, and, thus, igniting unburned grass.”The study also quotes experiences and observations of several indigenous peoples. In one such account, in Douglas Lockwood’s 1963 autobiography I, the Aboriginal, the indigenous Australian Waipuldanya says: “Not only the hawks used the ruse of deliberate grass fires as an aid to hunting. We often did so ourselves, especially towards the end of the long dry season when food was scarce and ten-feet [3-meter] tall speargrass, which burnt readily, was a natural haven for game. It is possible that our forefathers learnt this trick from the birds.”Overall, most instances of fire-spreading by birds seem to be deliberate, the authors write, and some other experts agree. By spreading fires to unburned areas, the birds force more prey to flee and become easy targets for their next meal.“There’s a purpose,” Robert Gosford, a co-author of the study, told the Washington Post. “There’s an intent to say, okay, there are several hundred of us there, we can all get a meal.”Although it is hard to say how common such bird-caused fires are, scientific acceptance of such fire-spreading would help in better planning of fire management and conservation efforts, the authors write.“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,” they add. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *