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Australian birds keep deliberately starting bushfires, are jerks

Australian wildlife is notorious for being absolutely terrifying, but the bastards have really kicked things up a notch.

Turns out two native Australian birds of prey, the brown falcon and the black kite, are closet pyromaniacs, and deliberately starting bushfires even though there is a complete fire ban over summer.

Damn hooligans.

Indigenous communities as well as firefighters and park rangers have sighted these birds grabbing burning sticks, flying up to 50 metres in the air with them, then dropping them into cleared grounds.

Why?

Well, for reasons that are equal parts terrifying, sadistic and genius – the birds are starting fires to essentially smoke smaller animals out of hiding and into the open.

From there, they simply swoop down and catch their prey – usually large insects, frogs and any other little critters they can get their talons on.

Lawyer Bob Gosford has been studying this phenomenon, and in a presentation at the Raptor Research Foundation, stated that “reptiles, frogs and insects rush out from the fire, and there are birds that wait in front, right at the foot of the fire, waiting to catch them.”

A Black Kite hunting for food during a bushfire (Image: Bob Gosford)

A Black Kite hunting for food during a bushfire (Image: Bob Gosford)

What makes this so incredible is that before now, it was believed that only man and lightning were capable of starting fires – in fact, making fire was one of the biggest drivers of human evolution.

This sort of ingenuity is in-line with what we know about the highly intelligent raptors.

They’ve been known, for instance, to pick up scraps from picnic spots and drop them into waterholes in order to bait fish to come to the surface – kinda like this:

We still haven’t got any photographic or video evidence of this happening yet so if you do happen to see a raptor looking very suss near a pile of burning sticks, whip out your iPhone and film it.

Oh Australia, just when we thought your deadly cocktail of lethal animals couldn’t get any more terrifying – you go and do this.

(Original post published here)

About the author

Technically, Riordan writes culture, politics and sport, but 80% of his words are direct quotes stolen from The Simpsons. He promises to tweet more at @riordanl and speaks words for The Zero Thumbs Down Podcast.

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