Birds of Prey are Starting Fires to Smoke Out and Catch Their Meals

By: | February 28th, 2016

Forest fires continue to take away thousands of acres of precious forests every year. We all think fires are caused due to some natural causes like lightning and human negligence. However, did you know that birds of prey are found to start fires to smoke out prey from undergrowth?

Birds of prey in Australia are starting fires to capture fleeing animals.

Black kites and brown falcons have been seen deliberately starting forest fires by swooping on burning twigs and dropping them at the un-burnt part of the forest.  They then wait patiently for the poor animals to come out from their hiding places. When these animals rush to escape, birds swoop down to catch their meal.

These birds have never been caught on camera. However, researchers found several accounts from local people living in northern Australia. Moreover, several firefighters and park rangers who put out forest fires have reported seeing birds carrying burning sticks.

Steve Debus, an expert in predatory birds, said, “’I think black kites and brown falcons are sufficiently intelligent to intentionally spread fires by dropping burning embers because black kites have been seen to drop bread scraps from picnic areas into nearby waterholes to bait fish within striking range.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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