In a broader sense, better understanding of avian fire-spreading, both in Australia and, potentially, elsewhere, can contribute to theories about the evolution of tropical savannas and the origins of human fire use.
We welcome theoretical and speculative papers exploring the significance of bodies of emerging literature (e.g. honeyguides, fire-following raptors) as discussed and understood by groups of collaborators. We favor co-authorship with Indigenous researchers and participation of Indigenous collaborators in this session.
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.
"The Big Muddy" follows centuries of human efforts to conceptualize this landscape of mud as a place with firm barriers between water and land, and then make these conceptions reality. A few examples: early French explorers repeatedly failed to locate the mouth of the Mississippi out of an inability to imagine a vast, multi-channeled delta. Rice, and then indigo, tobacco, and sugar encouraged settlers to drain, divide, and levee the landscape.
Margaret’s Grocery and Market is almost indescribable – it is at once evidence of an incredibly fertile imagination, a religious shrine, a jumble of thoughts and musings on the nature and power of religion and a work of architectural art. More than anything it is a validation of the freedom of expression in the built environment that is so apparent as you drive around the south – you can build just about anything, anywhere and anyhow here.
Is our landscape one shaped by humans and weather forces or might other agents - like birds - be in part responsible for the spread of fire across our landscapes? There are more questions here than answers...so far.
The real story, however, is what this is doing to the Mississippi river basin. Thankfully, we are protected by the best levees in the Valley (northern Delta counties), which did not even fail in 1927 (Cleveland hasn't been flooded by the River since 1903!), so unless there is an earthquake, we should be all right.
Dan Hipgrave: "A poster on the door warned: "Bring your liquor inside but not your beer." The walls were cluttered with posters and age-old postcards, while toy monkeys swung from the rafters. It was low lit – smoky but inviting, with beer and whiskey flowing freely."
Crows commute, heads down, their line of black Fords slow but steady. A heron keeps his Bentley in low gear.
The First Presbyterian Church at Port Gibson was built by the Reverend Zebulon Butler, who had the unfortunate distinction of also being the subject of its first service - his funeral.