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  • Writer's pictureBruce Smith

Fire-spreading hawks

A phenomenon known and ceremonialized for thousands of years by Australia's Aboriginal people is receiving scientific interest. A paper in the Journal of Ethnobiology describes how certain species of kites and falcons collect and spread burning sticks, presumably as a means of foraging optimization. This behavior has implications for understanding evolution of tropical savannas and the origins of human fire use. Because it's sometimes observed to be cooperative behavior, it's a testament to avian intelligence. And just pretty cool!


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