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Australia’s “Firehawks” Deliberately Start Wildfires to Flush Out Prey

According to a research paper published recently in the Journal of Ethnobiology, several Australian birds of prey have the habit of starting wildfires for the soul purpose of flushing out prey from the blazing grasslands. Interestingly, aboriginals have known about this for over 40,000 years and even have a name for the fire-wielding birds – “firehawks”.

Australia’s dry climate makes it prone to wildfires. Lightnings and human activities are considered the main causes, but according to a recently-published research paper, birds may sometimes have a part to play as well. Raptors like the black kite (Milvus migrans), whistling kite (Haliastur sphenurus), and the brown falcon (Falco berigora) can allegedly start fires in the continent’s 730,000 square miles of savanna by dropping burning sticks in the dry grass to flush out prey like insects, reptiles and small mammals. What’s even more remarkable is that they seem to be doing it on purpose.

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