Animal minds: Australian birds that use fire as a tool
|January 11, 2018||Posted by News under Animal minds, Intelligent Design|
From Mindy Weisberger at LiveScience:
Three species of raptors — predatory birds with sharp beaks and talons, and keen eyesight — are widely known not only for lurking on the fringes of fires but also for snatching up smoldering grasses or branches and using them to kindle fresh flames, to smoke out mammal and insect prey.
From their reports, a behavioral pattern emerged: Firehawks (also described as kitehawks, chickenhawks and, on several occasions by non-Aboriginals, s—hawks) purposely swiped burning sticks or grasses from smoldering vegetation — or even from human cooking fires — and then made off with the brands and dropped them into unburned areas to set them alight, presumably to drive out more prey. More.
Also, from Peter Dockrill at ScienceAlert:
This behaviour, documented in interviews with the team and observed first-hand by some of the researchers, sees prey driven toward the raptors by a wall of flame, enabling them to engage in a feeding frenzy upon fleeing or scorched land animals.
It would be really interesting if we found birds that actually start fires for this purpose, as opposed to spreading them. However, even spreading the fire requires cognitive awareness of the effect of fires on rodents combined with awareness of the effect of spreading the fire.
See also: Does intelligence depend on a specific type of brain?