The native people of Australia (Aborigines) have known about them for many thousands of years. Birds of prey spreading Wild fires by carrying smoldering or in some cases flaming twigs and grasses in their beaks or talons and dropping them on dry kindling. The birds do this to drive insects, reptiles and small mammals into the open to escape the flames. The fire-hawks include the Black Kite, Whistling Kite, and Brown Falcon. The Black Kites are native to Asia as well.
The photo above is a Red Tailed Hawk I took the picture while flying above Taylor Slough. We have none of the birds of prey mentioned above however we have plenty of others in the Americas’ (North and South). Ranchers and Farmers in Australia have observed their raptors in the act. They did not take the original peoples word for it as proof; as is typical with colonist they had to see it themselves. When they did see it first hand consultation with the Aborigine’s began; hopefully at some point they will start paying attention to the natives on Wild Fire prevention.
The Opsprey in the above photo certainly has the ability to carry kindling in its talons but does it? That is the question causing my curiosity to peak; do the Raptors in the America’s spread fires in the same manner? There are no videos, photos or films indicating they do, no eyewitnesses have come forward nor is there any articles I am able to find supporting it. But it is to me it is curious.
It’s not clear if anyone is looking for it although that makes a lot of sense. It makes sense because it would take man power which is in short supply when battling these monsters. To have a person standing by in the advancing flames would be wide open to criticism; it would be perceived as a monumental waste of time. Or would it be after it was proven they do?
I first read about the “Fire Hawks” several years ago with my initial thoughts being how interesting. But the more I read my thoughts turned to if they are starting fires in Australia what would stop our native Hawks from doing the same here? During this past weekend paying attention to the Oak Fire (Yosemite Wild fire) it peaked my curiosity again. What peaked it is how these fires will jump several miles and immediately begin a new massive fire. The Oak Fire jumped many miles out of the Park into the small mountain communities.
It makes sense they would due to it being an efficient way to provide a source of food. There are other birds I can imagine doing the same; Ravens, Crows, Herons and Egrets would have the same motivation; free easy meals. It would take a species such as Ravens to connect the dots after a day of capturing escaping animals. The Herons and Egrets are very well equipped with their long beaks and flying abilities.
However there is no mention of them being Fire Starters in Australia, it may be due to not being noticed. But when one species starts being Fire Starters why would others join in when they can take advantage of the buffet with no effort? I’m not sure if birds are capable of such logical thinking but if they were all starting fires they would never get extinguished; in my opinion.
It makes more sense that a raptor would engage in this behavior than a water bird or Corvid. There are no stories passed on by the people of the America’s first nation of this behavior. But if history is any indication we wouldn’t believe them anyway; after all we need videos, films and hundreds of eye witnesses to merely acknowledge that there may be a chance.
It is fairly common knowledge most Wild Fires are caused by humans; Arson for monetary reasons could be as high as 80%. There have been several Restaurants, Marina’s and Commercial fires this year that look suspicious. During the past year two people have been arrested and charged in California for starting 12 fires each; one has gone to trial and is in prison for 25 years the second is pending. Last week an Arsonist was caught by three residence in Oregon; they tied him to a tree until he was arrested and thrown in the hoose gow with a $100,000.00 bail. I am tired of these people and support capital punishment for Arson as well as several other unforgivable crimes against humanity; arsonist being the number 5 on my list.
Jacques Lebec Natural Self Reliance