A scary new study has revealed some native birds are burning their prey alive. How?
The birds have learned to swoop down and pick up burning sticks at the edge of bushfires. They then drop them in dry grass or bushes elsewhere to start new fires and flush out lizards, snakes and other prey they can feed on (and we wonder why overseas tourists are so terrified of travelling here).
Using reports of fire-starting birds collected between 2011 and 2017 in the Northern Territory, researchers have confirmed at least three birds – the Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus), and Brown Falcon (Falco berigora) – are responsible for spreading fire.
But apparently these “firehawks” are not a new phenomenon.
“We’re not discovering anything,” co-author Mark Bonta told National Geographic. “Most of the data that we’ve worked with is collaborative with Aboriginal peoples… They’ve known this for probably 40,000 years or more.”
I don’t care though – fire-starting birds?! When they rise up to declare themselves our overlords, I’m bowing down immediately.