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Birds Are Literally Starting Fires Because They Want To See The World Burn

And all for a bite to eat.

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Birds of prey are being named as the culprits behind a number of wildfires across Australia.

RT @Birds_Central: Fire Hawks (Black Kites) living up to their name. #Alicebirding @bgosford #birdsandfire

It's believed the birds start the fires so they can then capture, kill, and devour animals fleeing the fire.

Those Black Kites can find a fire front in a nanosecond! @bgosford #ESA14 #Alicebirding

Of course what these stupid fuckin' birds don't realise is that human beings are also fleeing fires, and they can't exactly catch us. So it's just heaps inconvenient and generally shitty.

Are Australian Raptors Real Life Fire Starters? #ornithology @IFLScience @bgosford

Some species, like Black Kites, are renowned for "baiting" their prey.

Kurmyshov / Getty Images

A 1982 journal by Greg Roberts describes a Black Kite stealing bread from him and then using the bread to fish, dropping it into a nearby lake and waiting for fish to approach the food.

Roberts goes so far as to ask the question: are birds of prey learning from humans?

"The apparent use of a bait to attract the fish is even more unusual," he writes. This bird had evidently not only acquired a taste for live aquatic animals. It had apparently learned of their attraction to bread and exploited this knowledge by deliberately droppingscraps onto the water, thus attracting them to the surface and within striking range.

"Is it possible that this habit was learned by the bird observing human picnickers throwing bread-scraps into the river?"


It seems there's been records of birds starting fires for centuries. Lawyer Bob Gosford interviewed 14 park rangers and many Aboriginal people in central Australia who all say birds use "fire propagation."

“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,” Gosford said.

Dauphincousteau / Getty Images

Gosford presented his findings to the Raptor Research Foundation last year, where he said some birds can carry flaming sticks and twigs at least 50 metres in the air without being burned.