Topic archives: Maxwell Witwer

“Intentional Fire-Spreading by “Firehawk” Raptors in Northern Australia,” Bonta et al. Journal of Ethnobiology, 37(4) (abstract)

“Intentional Fire-Spreading by “Firehawk” Raptors in Northern Australia,” Bonta et al. Journal of Ethnobiology, 37(4) (abstract)

December 20, 2017

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.

‘Troublemakers for fire’ – Raptors spreading fire in Australian savanna woodlands

‘Troublemakers for fire’ – Raptors spreading fire in Australian savanna woodlands

October 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.