Australian Birds of Prey Use Self-Taught Fire-Hunting Techniques

What was once considered native mythology of 'firehawks', three and likely more species of Australian raptors actively use fire-hunting techniques that were possibly learnt by observing human behaviour over the last 50,000 years. The certified scientific discovery of ostensibly wild 'firehawks' once considered mythology will without training acquire smouldering twigs from human and lightning started fires to start grassfires, driving prey out of dense fields and using the heated air to perform aerial manoeuvres to catch prey and evade the flames.

Moreover, they seem to have an active understanding of the dynamics of fire--actively moving embers and burning material past natural boundaries to maintain their fire-hunting of animals. Representing complex social reinforcement of fire-hunting techniques and community orientation.

The discovery of not one species, but multiples, of seemingly self-taught fire-hunters and fire-hunting behaviour brings up interesting questions ranging from climate change and possible ranging zones further south, to pest control, fire management, animal intelligence, evolution, and ethnobiology.

https://www.livescience.com/61375-fire-spreading-raptors.html

So it's those birds that have been starting all the fires?

I KNEW IT!

Hawki:
So it's those birds that have been starting all the fires?

I KNEW IT!

Yep, turns out the 50,000 year old conspiracy theory is true. More frightening is they themselves understand how fire works. Actively moving burning materials to start new fires to catch and kill more (and now possibly larger) prey easier.

What's really cool is we're seeing collectives of otherwise competing birds mutualistically benefitting from a pseudo-industrial use of resources and fairly (all things considered) complex land management behaviour.

From birds.

So it raises some interesting questions in ethnobiology as well, whether pre-modern humans developed complex community practices due to the advent of fire and that informed our social evolution.

What's also kind of amazing is it took millions of years for hominids to develop fire-stick hunting behaviour. To actively employ it in controlled means with adroit understanding of fire dynamics. These birds either always did this, or managed to do so at their longest possible point of 50,000 years observing modern humans in Australia and teaching it to their juveniles offspring, who in turn showed it to their offspring, and was picked up by other fire-seeking birds of prey for feeding frenzies.

If the latter, these birds are socially evolving faster than we did.

For the longest time we just assumed mythology and downplayed native Australian legends of hawks using fire-stick hunting. The recent body of evidence has serious implications and creates new obstacles to fire management with human designed fire breaks that threaten lives, livestock and property. As birds either restart fires thought put out or defended against, or they transport them over firebreaks to start other ones elsewhere.

So apparently Prometheus didn't just give humans the gift of fire... and we were beaten to it. Given the fact that birds were constantly pecking out his liver, my personal theory is they tortured the informaton out of him.

Makes sence. Crows and ravens have figured out what the trafic lights in cities do, and when its safe to cross put a tough bug or nut in the crosswalk, then wait for a car to crush it. I gues some of the birds of prey have a similar level intelligence.

Shame neither I, nor a habitable earth will be around long enough to see birds evolve after discovering fire.

That's genius- they don't even have to cook their meat afterwards!

Saelune:
Shame neither I, nor a habitable earth will be around long enough to see birds evolve after discovering fire.

No time for Negative Nancys, we've got FIRE BIRDS on the wing. Alfred Hitchcock would've had a field day with this knowledge!

After this, and learning that bees can do basic arithmetic and understand the concept of "zero", maybe we need to rethink the phrase "dumb animal".

Clever girls...

"We don't know who struck first, us or them, but we know that it was us that scorched the sky"
- Papa raptor to his youngling, 1000 years from now

saint of m:
Makes sence. Crows and ravens have figured out what the trafic lights in cities do, and when its safe to cross put a tough bug or nut in the crosswalk, then wait for a car to crush it. I gues some of the birds of prey have a similar level intelligence.

Saelune:
Shame neither I, nor a habitable earth will be around long enough to see birds evolve after discovering fire.

There are limits to the capacity for cognition of raptors, to be fair. But it makes more 'honest' a real discussion about perceptibly intelligent behaviour. And seeing it in action in other creatures with advanced sensory perception, as replicating suitably complex streaming between the occipital and the temporal lobe, should help shift the argument away from simply looking to things like the neocortex. Rather seeing relative problem solving attributes through sense and memory translation as front and centre to displaying still intelligent behaviour.

A type of complex intelligence that isn't so simply or truthfully tested by just sticking a mirror in front of something.

Much like the intelligence of corvids. We can also more honestly interpret other creatures in the same light. Corvids weren't just a freak.

The reason why I'm excited as new information comes out isn't simply the Australian discovery (which is kind of old) but rather how there's new pushes to explore what is known as 'Indigenous Ecological Knowledge' to explore other 'firehawk' legends worldwide. It's basically validation of early thoughts that I had in psychology that advanced avian intelligence wasn't simply found in highly adaptable commensalistic birds like crows.

It also has bigger considerations...

If the otherwise cryptozoological examination and search of worldwide 'firehawks' in mythology turns out to have similar findings worldwide it will mean that we've found a singular class of creature that has shaped ecology on Earth so fundamentally on a singular basis that even humans might have a competitor on an individual basis of total land utilization.

If worldwide 'firehawks' is true, it would explain savanna proliferation in terms of active terrain shaping and would even redefine concepts of tool-use empowered agriculture as not a purely human preoccupation.

The other big hope is that with a more honest interrogation and metric of animal intelligence, perhaps a deeper appreciation of those we share this world with. I mean the capacity to instruct the beneficial use of fire to shape vast swathes of Earth to their juveniles? And not one but multiple species capable of doing so? What greater sign should there be that is worthy of respect?

The one thing that kind of pisses me off is some maladjusted flight of fantasy imagining intelligent life amongst the stars, when if we're being more honest it is not only more beneficial but also practical to examine what is intelligence right here on this planet.

If we cannot learn to see such things in this new light and with new appreciation or respect, we are truly doomed.

The Rogue Wolf:
After this, and learning that bees can do basic arithmetic and understand the concept of "zero", maybe we need to rethink the phrase "dumb animal".

Precisely! All too often we put artificial weight on hominid-specific developments. So much so that our mythology of multiple cultures places unique relationships to things like fire use as if an element of that divine spark of humanity made manifest. And then we had hard evidence modern humans are roughly only 80,000 years old... other hominins populated our world. But we ignore it and tell ourselves we're special.

Then we prove other hominids use tools and even have concepts of humour. And we still ignore it.

Then we prove that love for our children is socially reinforced, and Rhesus macaques also rely on socialization otherwse they become neglectful or actively abusive parents, much like humans. And we still ignore it.

Now we have proof multiple raptors, and possibly a world phenomena in grasslands all over, also use fire-stick hunting techniques that we once thought the ultimate expression of tool-use and the 'divine spark' of humanity made manifest and proof of our mastery over the land. Creatures without even a neocortex that we pretend is so critical for such things.

So do we continue to ignore it?

I feel as if revelations like this do not open people's eyes to the majesty and respect owing to other creatures as living, intelligent, intuitive beings--beings capable of such things we consider so intrinsically as if an essentialist aspect of our deservedness to exist--that if that respect cannot be extended to other species despite proving it time and again, it says more about our intelligence and just how lacking it is to truly appreciate anything at all.

Stuff like this is the true test of whatever we may valourize of our humanity.

Jeez! So much time and effort to put down a forest fire, just for some birdbrain to start it anew...

I can imagin some of the monitor lizards are happy with this. Birds of Prey in Africa will chase down fleeing birds and insects from forrest fires, but can get too close and sufficate and fall to the ground. Many a Water Monitor takes advantage of this by getting the birds that fell outside the fire's range. I suspect the lizard population that that likes their meat red and the other white meat will enjoy this.

Oh, interesting! Hopefully the union of human and air-beast will arrive quicker than first assumed! Would help if we tried to be less nasty to them and their habitats though. That would be a start.

 

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