In the bone-dry heat of an Australian summer, bushfires are the apocalypse incarnate. They obliterate whole swathes of native woodland, raze family homes to the ground and sunder the livelihood of anyone unlucky enough to be caught in the danger zone.
So why would anyone want to instigate such a thing? When a fire starts to burn, and it starts to spread, what kind of hellion is responsible for the mayhem that follows?
Bob Gosford, an ornithologist from the Northern Territory, reckons he might just be on to an answer. And it might have something to do with these fucking jerks:
According to eyewitness reports, Australian birds of prey have been fanning the flames of wildfires in order to lure out vulnerable prey. Not literally fanning, mind you – but more than a few people have claimed to have seen kites and falcons snatching up burning sticks and dropping them into dry, unburnt grass.
“Black kites and brown falcons come to these fronts because it is just literally a killing frenzy, it’s a feeding frenzy because out of these grasslands come small birds, lizards, insects, everything fleeing the front of the fire” says Gosford, who’s been investigating the phenomenon for more than 10 years.
“When I talked to Aboriginal people about it later, they said, ‘Well that’s what the birds do… this is how these birds behave.’”
While Gosford himself is yet to see the rare occurrence firsthand, at least 16 members of the public have come forward to confirm his suspicions with anecdotal evidence. Among them is retired anthropologist Kim Ackerman, who claims to have caught a black kite in the act back in’77, in the middle of central Kimberley.
“A black kite was swooping down and picking up burning twigs and things and carrying them 15, 20 feet and dropping them again into grass and spinifex ahead of it,” he alleged.
It’s some real diabolical Machiavellian shit, this. In case this hasn’t quite clicked yet: birds are actively spreading bushfires in Australia in order to incite ‘killing frenzies’.
We’re as good as fucked.
Source: National Geographic
Feature image: How Stuff Works
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