Firehawks of the Top End

To: <>
Subject: Firehawks of the Top End
From: "Anthony Molyneux" <>
Date: Sun, 3 Jul 2011 13:43:22 +0930
Hi Bob, I have had this question on many occasions of whether the Black Kites 
deliberately light the fires when I was doing the raptor presentations at the 
Alice Springs Desert Park. I have never said that they definitely don't do this 
behaviour however I always gave my thoughts which follow;
I have watched numerous Black Kites and watched their behaviour when swooping 
down to the ground to pick up food scraps, reptiles etc..... if you watch this 
behaviour they snatch at the prey with their legs thrust forward and their legs 
are then propelled backwards as they continue their flight. The fly on briefly 
to see if there are any other kites that may steal their food (they are good 
pirates of food from other kites) and then look down to see what they have 
caught. If they have missed the prey and perhaps grabbed a stick, rock, 
etc....... they will then drop that stick or rock. Now translate this behaviour 
to a fire and if they missed the reptile and grabbed a stick (which may feel 
like a lizard??) and then realise they have missed they will then drop the 
stick. If the stick is smouldering or on fire it will then start another fire.
>From this behaviour they MAY have a learned behaviour or is it just good 
>fortune rather than good management??
I don't have a definitive answer but above are my observations.


Anthony Molyneux
Alice Springs

Subject: New post at The Northern Myth: Firehawks of the
Top End
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My latests post at The Northern Myth - having a look at behaviour of birds
around fires in the Top End. Any thoughts or anecdotes welcome!

Bob Gosford
The Northern Myth blog

Twitter: @bgosford


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