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'Troublemakers for fire' - Raptors spreading fire in Australian savanna woodlands

'Troublemakers for fire' - Raptors spreading fire in Australian savanna woodlands

Bob GosfordOct 1, 2016

Fire provides the opportunity for pyrophilic behaviour by some birds. Brown Falcons perch at the fire-front waiting for grasshoppers, frogs, snakes, lizards and small mammals. Whistling Kites and particularly Black Kites, Milvus migrans, spectacularly hawk around the curtain of flame, preying on grasshopper, cockroaches and other small fleeing animals. Local Aboriginal people believe that Brown Falcons and Black Kites set fires by carrying burning sticks to new locations and drop them into dry grass on unburnt grounds.

Bird of the Week: Straw-necked Ibis, Longreach Waterhole, NT

Bird of the Week: Straw-necked Ibis, Longreach Waterhole, NT

Bob GosfordSep 8, 2016

A few of the birds that passed by my lens while I was camped at one end of the Longreach Waterhole just west of the small NT town of Elliott..

What was the first name for grasswrens?

What was the first name for grasswrens?

Bob GosfordAug 15, 2016

In Pitjantjatjara country we know that the local name for Rhipidura leucophrys is tjintir-tjintirpa. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the scientific name, if you’re musically inclined and have an ear for Australian bird songs, you might recognise tjintir-tjintirpa as an onomatopoeic rendition of the ratcheting call of the Willie Wagtail.

RIEL Seminar - Brown Falcon and Black Kite as propagators of fire in the Australian savanna

RIEL Seminar - Brown Falcon and Black Kite as propagators of fire in the Australian savanna

Bob GosfordAug 12, 2016

Anecdotal historical reports from qualified observers support the hypothesis that this is a hitherto-undocumented tool-using behavior that, if verified to satisfy the standards of Western ecologists, will have important ramifications for understanding pyrophytic landscape evolution as well as human-bird relationships.

Tool use in birds - on fishing Herons and Black Kites

Tool use in birds - on fishing Herons and Black Kites

Bob GosfordJun 26, 20161 Comment

"We think it is incredible this bird thought out the whole operation from catching a crab to converting into a bigger prey of a fish--and resisted the temptation to just eat the crab," Suzanne Hills and Chris Cromey.

Why Malheur NWR matters and

Why Malheur NWR matters and "armed, out of state militia groups" don't

Bob GosfordJan 5, 20162 Comments

The occupation of Malheur by armed, out of state militia groups puts one of America’s most important wildlife refuges at risk. It violates the most basic principles of the Public Trust Doctrine and holds hostage public lands and public resources to serve the very narrow political agenda of the occupiers. The occupiers have used the flimsiest of pretexts to justify their actions.

Strider's Almanac, Vol. 1, Pt 2: How the growing season began in late 2012

Strider's Almanac, Vol. 1, Pt 2: How the growing season began in late 2012

Bob GosfordDec 20, 2015

Depending upon the thickness of the leaf litter layer, and the rate at which the rain falls, anything between the first 3 to 12 mm of a rainfall will be completely absorbed by the leaf litter and hardly a drop will find its way through to the soil beneath it. For this reason we can discount all of the cases or drops of rain and traces in the gauge as fairly irrelevant to what is going on in the soil.

Bird of the Week: Sandhill Crane Grus canadensis

Bird of the Week: Sandhill Crane Grus canadensis

Bob GosfordNov 11, 2015

En-route back to Mojave from Sacramento last Sunday I stopped in at the Merced National Wildlife Reserve, one of a chain of wildlife reserves throughout the extensive agricultural region of the Central Valley.

Do these raptors spread fire in the Australian savanna?

Do these raptors spread fire in the Australian savanna?

Bob GosfordOct 13, 20154 Comments

Use of fire as a tool is normally considered to be restricted to humans, and hence to have played an extremely important role not only in human societal change but also in the large-scale modification of landscapes across the world. But what if animals other than humans exhibit pyrophilic behavior?

Muralkarra (Crow) by Frank Malkorda

Muralkarra (Crow) by Frank Malkorda

Bob GosfordSep 8, 2015

Crow is a creature who is intensely curious about everything to do with funerals and so, as befits their elaborate ceremonial, he is a skilled dancer and musician. He perches on hollow log coffin, called there by two names, Badurra and Maraych, just as, in fact, Djambidj owners have crow painted on the top of their ossuaries.

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