Burning interest in our fire starting bird

12 January 2018
Burning interest in our fire starting bird

A group of researchers in Australia and overseas are working with Mimal Land Management and other Indigenous groups to prove something we’ve always known - that some species of birds spread fire to hunt for prey.

When Mimal rangers are doing fire management work or fighting bushfires, sometimes they spot a special bird we call Karrkanj. Some family have seen this bird pick up a burning stick and drop it to a new place to create more fire.

This “troublemaker” Karrkanj is so special to Mimal rangers and landowners, we’ve adopted it in our logo.

Last year, when ranger groups and landowners from around the Top End accepted our invitation to come to a meeting about birds, we shared stories about Karrkanj.

Two elders Dudley Lawrence and Maggie Takumba sang a song about the bird that many hadn’t heard for a very long time. It is an old song we’ve recorded to make sure it is kept for future generations.

The researchers, including our friend Bob Gosford, have published a paper about fire hawks - and you can read more about their work through the following articles and links:

Crikey: https://blogs.crikey.com.au/northern/2017/12/20/intentional-fire-spreading-firehawk-raptors-northern-australia-bonta-et-al-journal-ethnobiology-374-abstract/

New Scientist: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2157887-arsonist-falcons-suggest-birds-discovered-fire-before-humans-did/

PLOS: http://blogs.plos.org/ecology/2018/01/09/the-birds-that-start-fires-using-indigenous-ecological-knowledge-to-understand-animal-behavior/

Other news articles: