A post that looks at our research into firespreading raptors in the Top End of Australia ... and beyond.
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.
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.
Sometimes birds are hard to find. Sometimes not. Bob Gosford takes two steps from his bed and finds an ornithorium of wonder and beauty.
Earlier this week I drove out to the west coast of the NT’s Gulf of Carpentaria for work. On the first morning out bush I was lucky enough to be up before dawn and wandered down to the foreshore to see what might wander past and into my camera. I’d seen a pair of adult […]
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.