The following was posted on the WildbirdSingapore group and is said to
be from an Etnoornithology forum.
A Remarkable Case of Tool-Using in a Bird
Author(s): Ashley Montagu
Source: American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 72, No. 3 (Jun.,
1970), p. 610
Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the American
Stable URL: http://www.jstor. org/stable/ 673006
Accessed: 11/05/2009 12:34
Accepted for publication 18 February 1970.
To the growing list of tool-users among animals other than man should
be added the Northern Territory kitehawk or, as he is called among the
aborigines of that part of Australia, the firehawk. In the fascinating
book about his life, I, The Aboriginal (Ade- laide: Griffin, 1962),
written down by Douglas Lockwood, Waipuldanya, an abori- ginal of the
Alawa tribe at Roper River, says, "I have seen a hawk pick up a smoul-
dering stick in its claws and drop it in a fresh patch of dry grass
half a mile away, then wait with its mates for the mad exodus of
scorched and frightened rodents and rep- tiles. When that area was
burnt out the pro- cess was repeated elsewhere. We call these fires
Jaluran" (p. 93). Is this, possibly, the first recorded case of the
use of fire by a nonhuman animal?
I presume the kitehawk is the Whistling Kite, as Kite Hawk appears to
be one of its alternative common names. Has anyone ever heard of this
behaviour? Perhaps some-one with access to JSTOR could read the
article and let me know what they think? Perhaps one of the loacls was
pulling the leg of the Anthropologist.
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