Anne Arundel Bird Club
“Firehawks: Arsonists or Land Managers?” Across Australia’s tropical North, certain raptors have an amazing tool-using ability: they spread fires. Black Kites, Whistling Kites, and Brown Falcons, when in need of more food, snatch burning brands from wildfires and campsites and drop them in patches of unburned grass to flush out prey. Every Aboriginal group and every firefighter in the bush knows this, because firehawks can become quite a nuisance. But are these raptors part of the problem, or part of the solution? In 2016, Dr. Bonta started leading teams of researchers into remote corners of the Northern Territory to find out more about this enigmatic behavior and what it could tell us about the intelligence of birds, human evolution, and the future of Australian tropical ecosystems in a warming world. Over the next few years, they talked to Aboriginal firefighters and the owners of sacred sites whose ancestors have been on the land for 40,000 years. What they found out will amaze you! Read more at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/05/science/australia-firehawks-aboriginal.html and join geographer Mark Bonta for a slide and video presentation on their discoveries.