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Old 16th February 2018, 11:02 AM   #281
MikeG
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Could someone quote my post #271, as macdoc doesn't seem to be responding........and is still repeating his claim that these observations are confirmed.
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Old 16th February 2018, 11:17 AM   #282
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Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
I have yet to see anything supporing your denial position. You've got lots of supporting docs from me dismissing your ??/"well their not mammals and maybe raptors aren't smart" nonsense from you.

So you are reduced to claiming "strawman" on info that supports the rather obvious conclusion that three species of raptors are using fire and have been observed doing so by a number of observers and have far and away enough mental ability to do that.

You have no supported argument against their observations and conclusions.
Bottom line ..raptors are smart and this is just one more example and not particularly extraordinary to anyone but you.
I have not claimed anywhere that raptors can't do this, or that it is extraordinary. Kindly top making up nonsense. I did cite evidence that the abilities of corvids and parrots are superior to other classes of birds, and that there so far is not sufficient evidence that other classes of birds apart from corvids and some parrots have similar problem-solving abilities to apes. This is in my first post which contained links to peer-reviewed research on the evolution of Avian intelligence and evidence for convergent evolution in corvids and apes.

Nor have I said 'their (sic) not mammals'. What I said is that if anyone talked about mammals the way some people here are talking about birds (a species of mammal can solve complex problems, so that shows a different species from a different class of mammal must be able to solve similar problems, and either you admit they can all solve complex problems or else you're saying they're all dumb), everyone would realize how silly it is.
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Old 16th February 2018, 01:43 PM   #283
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Quote:
I have not claimed anywhere that raptors can't do this, or that it is extraordinary.
You did a sterling job of leaving that impression

marvelous denial of the denial.

Do you actually know anything about birds?
Do you observe them in the field.?

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Old 16th February 2018, 03:08 PM   #284
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Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
Not that much, which is why many bird species already know this. Just make the connection fire = food.
Finding a burning twig and figuring out that if you pick it up and carry it to an unburnt stretch of bush and then drop it there causes another fire that results in more food is much more complex behaviour, different ballpark altogether.
Sorry, but the behaviour of picking up a burning twig and dropping it in unburned bush creating a fire that will drive out prey not a lot more complex than a bird bringing shellfish half a mile to a car park and dropping it from a height to break it open. The reward is almost immediate and it requires no more that a few minutes thinking/planning ahead.

However, imprisoning live birds with a view to using them to feed chicks that haven't even hatched yet, and crippling them so that they cannot escape is a far more complex form of behaviour, and shows that they are planning days ahead.
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Old 16th February 2018, 03:13 PM   #285
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Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
Their talons are amazing an big ...had red tailed hawk hit a starling literally 5' away from me when I was working upstairs near my big windows,

Had the window open and heard this crashing and there was a red tailed glaring at me with a starling dangling ....I suspect they just hit the small birds with their fist in flight and stun them - the can easily hold a small bird in a cage of talons.

I don't think they care if it's much alive coming out but their beaks are sharp too to yank on a neck.

small birds suck on land and if in a tight hole won't be very successful..they will always tend to hold their wings out which will keep them in.
I can't figure out how the falcons stuff the little birds into the little spaces without poking holes in the birds. Their talons are needle sharp and so are the beaks. The prey will be struggling and flapping and flopping. The falcon cannot cut or pierce the little bird because it will bleed out right away.

This is not making sense to me. I need help.
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Old 16th February 2018, 03:30 PM   #286
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
I can't figure out how the falcons stuff the little birds into the little spaces without poking holes in the birds. Their talons are needle sharp and so are the beaks. The prey will be struggling and flapping and flopping. The falcon cannot cut or pierce the little bird because it will bleed out right away.

This is not making sense to me. I need help.
Stunned?
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Old 16th February 2018, 04:29 PM   #287
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Sorry, but the behaviour of picking up a burning twig and dropping it in unburned bush creating a fire that will drive out prey not a lot more complex than a bird bringing shellfish half a mile to a car park and dropping it from a height to break it open. The reward is almost immediate and it requires no more that a few minutes thinking/planning ahead.

However, imprisoning live birds with a view to using them to feed chicks that haven't even hatched yet, and crippling them so that they cannot escape is a far more complex form of behaviour, and shows that they are planning days ahead.
I have to admit, it reminded me of woodpeckers drilling holes into trees and stuffing acorns into them to store for winter.
Is this a sign of forward thing and/or intelligence, or is it merely an instinct, like nest building, that has evolved through natural selection?
I don't know, but I do know that flying and nest building are inherited, instinctual actions for most birds - but both require practice to do properly.

So stuffing your food in a hole, be it a small bird or an acorn, may merely be an evolutionary trait and not an indication of thought and planning.
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Old 16th February 2018, 04:38 PM   #288
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Could someone quote my post #271, as macdoc doesn't seem to be responding........and is still repeating his claim that these observations are confirmed.
I am convinced the stories are true and the birds hunt with fire ... and in some ways it certainly is confirmed.

BUT not to a skeptics level or even science level.

Even if we had say TWO amateur videos of the act (I'm assuming shaky blurry and distant) .. that would still not be fully confirmed .... we'd need a dozen videos and closeup of raptors grabbing food after dropping the fire sticks.

AND a peer reviewed study made by scientists in this field that covered all the bases.

So basically I agree it's a bit premature to use the term confirmed .. it's good enough for me ... but not for everyone.
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Old 16th February 2018, 04:42 PM   #289
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Originally Posted by EHocking View Post
I have to admit, it reminded me of woodpeckers drilling holes into trees and stuffing acorns into them to store for winter.
Is this a sign of forward thing and/or intelligence, or is it merely an instinct, like nest building, that has evolved through natural selection?
I don't know, but I do know that flying and nest building are inherited, instinctual actions for most birds - but both require practice to do properly.

So stuffing your food in a hole, be it a small bird or an acorn, may merely be an evolutionary trait and not an indication of thought and planning.

So might starting fires with smouldering sticks.
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Old 16th February 2018, 07:50 PM   #290
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
So might starting fires with smouldering sticks.
Might being the operative word.

If only someone could provide verifiable evidence that it is actually happening, then that would be something to think about.
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Old 16th February 2018, 07:51 PM   #291
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Stunned?
If I stun her too little she flies away. If I stun her too much she dies. When she is stunned she looks dead. When she is dead she looks stunned. Such is my life as a falcon.
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Old 16th February 2018, 08:56 PM   #292
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Gentlemen, start your engines...

Originally Posted by Gizmodo
Rob Simmons of the University of Cape Town in South Africa is skeptical. “I don’t believe a falcon has the cognitive ability to ‘store’ prey like this,” he says. “I think the birds’ prey may simply be escaping and finding refuge.” Raptors often start plucking their prey before they kill them, so the injured birds may simply be escapees.
https://gizmodo.com/diabolical-falco...als-1751857385
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Old 16th February 2018, 09:06 PM   #293
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Originally Posted by EHocking View Post
If only someone could provide verifiable evidence that it is actually happening, then that would be something to think about.
Unfortunately, its not just a matter of going out with a video camera and following a few raptors around to see if they start fires. These raptors are not claimed to be starting fires, they are claimed to be spreading them - going to burned out, smouldering areas of existing fires, and spreading the fires to unburned areas to flush out prey. That means the observer has to get close to the fire.

I don't know whether you have ever lived in an area prone to forest fires (I have when I was studying at the Monash University's Clayton Campus, and at Churchill Campus in Gippsland), but getting anywhere near to forest fires is something that can be extremely hazardous to your health. The situation can change in a heartbeat.... one moment you're relatively safe, then there is a subtle wind change and the next moment you are surrounded. Fire fronts have been known to travel at over 20 kph... double that for every 10° of up slope; if one is coming toward you, you will not be able to outrun it... you're probably dead already, you just don't know it yet!

Additionally, the areas where forest fires are burning are completely off limits. I doubt that ornithologists are going to be allowed to go there, so opportunities to get video will be very few and far between.
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Old 16th February 2018, 09:37 PM   #294
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Nothing like a little fact checking William.

I did some further reading on avian intelligence and research on raptors is very lacking.
Following links from falconers' opinions (many raptors simply aren't that bright), the thought on avian intelligence is that communal birds tend to be "brighter", e.g., corvids, psittacines.

Black Kites do tend to flock and roost in large flocks. So it may be that they are "smarter" than the average raptor.
An interesting paper here, has an attempt at an IQ Index :
Consistently, there was a significant relationship between high innovation rate and large relative brain size for corvids, parrots, and to a lesser extent, non-corvid songbirds, woodpeckers (Piculinae), hornbills (Bucerotidae), owls (Strigidae) and falcons (Falconidae). These patterns were similar when frequency of tool use... (using the same method of collecting anecdotes) was also correlated with relative brain size (Lefebvre et al. 2002).
Note the highlighting though. Similar problem as the OP "study" unfortunately.

That study is 12 years old.
Dr.Lefebvre has quite a number published since then.
I have not gone through them as yet, but from a quick skim appear to have more depth than than the OP paper.
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Old 16th February 2018, 10:07 PM   #295
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Unfortunately, its not just a matter of going out with a video camera and following a few raptors around to see if they start fires. These raptors are not claimed to be starting fires, they are claimed to be spreading them - going to burned out, smouldering areas of existing fires, and spreading the fires to unburned areas to flush out prey. That means the observer has to get close to the fire.
Well, they make the claim, they are obliged to gather scientific evidence rather than campfire yarns to back their claim.
Quote:
I don't know whether you have ever lived in an area prone to forest fires (I have when I was studying at the Monash University's Clayton Campus, and at Churchill Campus in Gippsland), but getting anywhere near to forest fires is something that can be extremely hazardous to your health. The situation can change in a heartbeat.... one moment you're relatively safe, then there is a subtle wind change and the next moment you are surrounded. Fire fronts have been known to travel at over 20 kph... double that for every 10° of up slope; if one is coming toward you, you will not be able to outrun it... you're probably dead already, you just don't know it yet!

Additionally, the areas where forest fires are burning are completely off limits. I doubt that ornithologists are going to be allowed to go there, so opportunities to get video will be very few and far between.
Well, I've been a keen birder and photographer since childhood and travelled/worked in Africa, Asia and the outback in SA, NT, WA and Qld in Australia. I've assisted sugar cane burn offs in queensland and been a volunteer firefigther in the NT and rural Victoria. So I have a little experience in observing wildlife, this specific wildlife as well as fire safety and management.

My 40+ years of experiences, though, has absolutely nothing to do with verifying or falsifying their clams. It is the background to my day to day scepticism in accepting anecdotes as evidence.

But I'm not the one making the claim, so my experience doesn't matter.
The burden of proof is theirs, the burden of disproof is not mine.
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Old 17th February 2018, 11:05 PM   #296
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I've always just said corvids, parrots, and diurnal raptors are the most intelligent birds, intelligence being expressed in different ways.
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Old 18th February 2018, 10:51 AM   #297
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Things that are well established regarding raptors and fire:
1. Some species are very much attracted to active fires.
2. Fire-attracted raptors patrol the advancing front for insects, small mammals, and reptiles that are flushed by the fire.
3. People claim to have observed certain raptors drop burning embers from a fire to spots where the fire has not yet advanced.

Questions/issues
1) Are raptors smart enough to start new fires? Sure, why not? I see no reason why under the right conditions that cause and effect couldn't be sussed out by species that survive by their wits to catch their prey.
2) It's those right conditions that are the rub. An advancing fire line is something that occurs on a landscape essentially once per year and it generally can only last for a few hours to a few days as fuels are consumed. Is a few days per year of easier hunting sufficient to serve as a driver of lifetime fitness that can result in natural selection for a behavior as complex as the intentional spreading of fire? I doubts it.
3) Does the observed behavior even pass a plausibility test for improved fitness over other individuals? No. Recall that the fire already exists. What's to induce an individual to leave an active front where food is still becoming available to set a new one a few 10s of meters away? He'll catch no more food from a new fire line than he would by working the current one. Further, it's just as likely that the firespreader would be duped by some other bird following him to the first morsels flushed from the new spot fire as it would be that the firespreader gets those morsels himself. So the benefit to those individuals in terms of a selective advantage for spreading new fires is very difficult to establish. Without that clear benefit, how does such a behavior evolve?
4) My hypothesis: One thing raptors routinely obtain from active fire fronts are snakes, charred to various degrees. I suspect that the birds are swooping in and picking up what they think to be a snake and then dropping it when they realize that it isn't. Sometimes these embers mistaken as snakes are dropped ahead of the fire line and sometimes behind it, but confirmation bias relays only stories of the former. Sometimes those embers dropped ahead of the line start a new spot fire and sometimes they don't. When they do, it can certainly appear to be the case that raptors are starting new fire with burning embers, but I'm going to need quite a bit more to convince me that it is anything other than witness of an odd phenomenon.

ETA: So I'm an expert who cries "poppycock!" at the suggestion that birds use fire as a weapon.

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Old 18th February 2018, 05:37 PM   #298
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Quote:
An advancing fire line is something that occurs on a landscape essentially once per year and it generally can only last for a few hours to a few days as fuels are consumed. Is a few days per year of easier hunting sufficient to serve as a driver of lifetime fitness that can result in natural selection for a behavior as complex as the intentional spreading of fire? I doubts it.
this is not true ....fires are set regularly by rangers in helicopters in the dry season.....coolest job in the world....toss a fire grenade from a chopper.

https://www.theguardian.com/australi...re-for-country

No snakes are "charred" in a bush fire ....they might be a bit IF they die but the fire moved very quickly ....it flares the low bushes

This was set by a fire bomb ....and I got a bit too close



you can see the heat ripples but there is no prolonged burning that would cook a snake cept for local abos.

There were several "bombs" ( they are small ) dropped here .



and this is not "new"

Quote:
Fire has long been a feature of the Australian bush, with the plants and animals adapted to regular, natural infernos. For thousands of years, Aborigines lived with the flames too, using them to improve forest access and increase the size of hunting grounds.
Bird congregate in hundreds at times....I've personally seen dozens circling in close.


and no fear at close quarters to the flames


One of the most convincing for me was a ranger actively fighting a fire and seeing the fire jump forward across the road far ahead ..then realizing it was birds...it's in the thread somewhere.

He's trained at spotting fires and controlling them...I'd call him a qualified observer.

The aboriginals have been in the area for 10,s of thousands of years and this is current behaviour of raptors.....give the people that live there a bit of credit for knowing what they are on about.


Quote:
Mary Gibson, a senior Aboriginal woman from the central desert region, leads rangers and traditional owners in fire management burns in the Katiti Petermann Indigenous protected area. Photograph: Helen Davidson for the Guardian
Quote:
The convoy of Toyotas bounces through red desert sand and shocks of flowers, while Mary Gibson looks out her window, searching for a good place to start a fire.

The cars pull over and the group gets out, led by Gibson and Pantjiti McKenzie – senior Aboriginal women from this central Australian region. Most wear orange vests, a nod to workplace safety at odds with the many rubber thongs and bare feet.

Each woman stands over a mound of spinifex and casually throws in a match, waits for a moment to check that it’s caught, then walks to the next. Soon the air is thick with smoke from the hot, fat, fires that burn out as quickly as they started.

In less than an hour the ground is charred and dotted with large black clumps of ash and charcoal. Attention moves to digging up dozens of witchetty grubs from the roots of nearby Maku trees.

Small animals escape the flames but can’t evade Gibson, who catches two goannas to roast up later. She throws the carcasses in the back of the car next to our feet and an uninterested dog named Bibi, and we head to another site to do it all again.
https://www.theguardian.com/australi...re-for-country
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Old 19th February 2018, 10:32 AM   #299
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Oh no...

Originally Posted by Earth Touch News
Qninba and his team did not see these attacks for themselves (or see the falcons returning to collect their meals), but they're convinced all of this is no accident. “Our observation of [small passerine birds] whose feathers and tail feathers had been torn leaves no doubt that it could not be coincidence but a deliberate act.”

If the team is right, it would be the first time such entrapment tactics have been recorded for a bird of prey.

But without key documentation of the behaviour as it happened, other experts are sceptical...
They never saw any falcon stash a live prey bird and never saw one retrieved. They just figured that this is what is happening. Oh, and one old fisherman guy says he already knows about them doing it. Another case of local lore converted to "fact" before it's actually determined using scientific methodology?

https://www.earthtouchnews.com/natur...-on-them-later
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Old 19th February 2018, 11:39 AM   #300
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Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
this is not true ....fires are set regularly by rangers in helicopters in the dry season.....coolest job in the world....toss a fire grenade from a chopper.
I understand how prescribed fire works. What I don't understand is how you can have another fire on a patch that has burned. Without time for new growth to develop, what is the fuel that carries the next fire? Temperate grasslands can support annual fires; perhaps biomass can accumulate in tropical systems fast enough to support semiannual fire but sharply demarcated wet and dry seasons suggests that anything more frequent than annual burns would be rare.

For the evolution of complex behavior such as "carrying burning embers to intentionally set new head fires ahead of existing head fires" there needs to be a significant fitness benefit to individuals engaged in the behavior. Teasing that out includes consideration how often over the course of its life an individual even has access to a fire, and that involves spatio-temporal information on active fires compared to spatio-temporal information on raptors.

Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
No snakes are "charred" in a bush fire ....they might be a bit IF they die but the fire moved very quickly ....it flares the low bushes
Snakes get charred here in the US. Found one meself once, and I don't spend nearly as much time on active burns as other folks do.

Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
Bird congregate in hundreds at times....I've personally seen dozens circling in close. . . .
and no fear at close quarters to the flames
Right. This is also nothing new and I've seen similar things myself. The whole point of the article is that people have known about this for thousands of years. No one is arguing against raptors (and other predators) being attracted to active fires.


Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
One of the most convincing for me was a ranger actively fighting a fire and seeing the fire jump forward across the road far ahead ..then realizing it was birds...it's in the thread somewhere.

He's trained at spotting fires and controlling them...I'd call him a qualified observer.
Yeah, cause spot fires never pop up on their own . . .

Again, even if we allow for new spot fires to have resulted from a hawk dropping a glowing ember into dry fuels - and I have no reason to doubt that this has happened and been witnessed by humans - the unsupported leap is in the interpretation of the birds' agency, i.e., that it is thinking "Imma grab that burning stick and use it to set a new fire over there where I can then forage for fleeing grasshoppers just like I already am doing here at the head of this fireline."

Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
The aboriginals have been in the area for 10,s of thousands of years and this is current behaviour of raptors.....give the people that live there a bit of credit for knowing what they are on about.
I have nowhere expressed skepticism toward the observations of native people, and I'm not sure why in a case like this anyone would. Everybody knows that certain species of raptors are attracted to fires and that, if you watched them long enough, you'd probably see one flying around with a glowing ember. What is not supported by the evidence presented in the paper is the interpretation of agency on the part of the birds to be intentionally starting new fires.
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Old 23rd February 2018, 12:40 PM   #301
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That last was a snark at the "dumb ignrnt savges"...that came across from a few.

Spot fires don't cross roads the way it was reported

Quote:
"Imma grab that burning stick and use it to set a new fire over there where I can then forage for fleeing grasshoppers just like I already am doing here at the head of this fireline."
You seriously underestimate bird capabilities.
You think a hawk swooping to flush game is not "intentional" activity with an anticipated outcome.
Group hunting by one species is not "intentional" ??

Predators are canny .....even crocs track human activity patterns and lie in wait.
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Old 23rd February 2018, 12:50 PM   #302
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I'm going to break the habit of a lifetime and contradict The Shrike. I don't think that any raptor would mistake a burnt stick for a burnt snake. They've got just about the best eyes in the animal kingdom, so I don't think they'd fall for that.

Further, all the raptors I have ever seen at the front edge of fires (almost always in Africa, but in NW West Australia too) have been waiting ahead of the fire to take live prey. Are there documented examples of raptors (specifically raptors) feeding on burnt carrion behind the leading edge of the fire?

Finally, I say again to macdoc. You can produce all the assertion and stories you like. You can claim birds are capable of splitting the atom. Every single thing you say on that matter may be true.......but it still leaves you supporting unevidenced assertions. That is not a sceptical position to hold. It isn't a logical position. These birds may be capable of what is claimed, but until we have actual evidence then we have nothing. Nothing other than stories at the bigfoot level. When someone designs and carries out a study which supports the claims, you cna pat yourself handsomely on the back. I won't, because all you've done is regurgitate tales without the slightest evidential backing.
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Old 23rd February 2018, 12:52 PM   #303
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Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
........You think a hawk swooping to flush game is not "intentional" activity with an anticipated outcome.
Group hunting by one species is not "intentional" ??..........
Classic straw man, times two.
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Old 23rd February 2018, 01:57 PM   #304
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
I'm going to break the habit of a lifetime and contradict The Shrike. I don't think that any raptor would mistake a burnt stick for a burnt snake. They've got just about the best eyes in the animal kingdom, so I don't think they'd fall for that.
That is what I was thinking, plus they can't be that dumb to fly around for a while thinking a stick was a snake. I would say at most one grab and that would be the end of it, the hawk would drop the stick hoping none of his friends saw.

Someones Quote:
"Imma grab that burning stick and use it to set a new fire over there where I can then forage for fleeing grasshoppers just like I already am doing here at the head of this fireline."

You would start a new fire when it starts to die down, also they would start new fires when they have a perfectly good fire already burning if the competition for food was too much. A new fire would thin the birds out a bit.

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Old 23rd February 2018, 06:45 PM   #305
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Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
That last was a snark at the "dumb ignrnt savges"...that came across from a few...
Careful about all that stone throwing...

Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
...there is no prolonged burning that would cook a snake cept for local abos.
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Old 23rd February 2018, 07:06 PM   #306
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Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
Spot fires don't cross roads the way it was reported.
I don't understand this. Spot fires happen when burning embers go flying through the air and then start new fires away from the main fire. That can happen across both natural and manmade fire breaks. I read that the greatest distance recorded for a new spot fire was 10 miles away from the main fire.
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Old 23rd February 2018, 09:17 PM   #307
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Read the accounts. ...I think they understand a bit better than you or I what they saw

Just one

Quote:
Another fire-spreading encounter occurred at the Ranger Uranium Mine near Kakadu, NT, where Eussen was a firefighter (Eussen and Angelo 2003; Martin 2003, 2004; Table 1:Record 15). One afternoon, while he was ensuring that a grass fire did not leap across a highway, he observed fire-foraging activities of both Whistling and Black Kites. Though the fire burned itself out, Eussen was alerted to a new blaze on the unburnt side of the road. He drove over and put it out, noting a Whistling Kite flying about 20 meters in front of him with a smoking stick in its talons. It dropped the stick and smoke began to curl from the dry grass, starting a spot fire that had to be immediately extinguished.

In all, he put out seven fires, all caused by the kites. On that occasion, approximately 25 kites were foraging at the edge of the dying fire, but only two were adept at transporting smoking sticks. One repeatedly swooped at a stick, only lifting it a meter or less before dropping it.
Some of my photos are exactly from that area...I've flown over the mine so have a pretty good grasp of the kind of fire and bird activity in the region in the dry.
Why would I ever doubt an eye witness account of activity quite within a raptors capability. And he's not the only one.

Thinking that there is only one "seasonal fire" is simply ludicrous speculation. Lightning, campers, drive by butt tossing, aboriginals, bush control and now clever raptors are all fire vectors.

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Old 23rd February 2018, 11:39 PM   #308
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Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
.......Thinking that there is only one "seasonal fire" is simply ludicrous speculation. Lightning, campers, drive by butt tossing, aboriginals, bush control and now clever raptors are all fire vectors.
Ludicrous speculation indeed. When you've got some evidence of raptors spreading fire, do let us know.
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Old 24th February 2018, 11:54 AM   #309
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Indeed, the "mistaken snake" hypothesis is merely that: a hypothesis to potentially explain anecdotal claims of raptors carrying burning sticks. This was an attempt of mine to give the benefit of the doubt to the claimants who have yet to produce anything other than anecdotes. If this is something that certain species "do" then it should be pretty easy to obtain photographs of raptors at least carrying burning sticks from fires, no? It sure is easy to photograph them hanging out around active fires, so it should be easy to photograph them flying around with embers they've collected from those fires.

As for my so-called ludicrous speculation about seasonality of fire in northern Australia, I'm yet to hear an explanation of what is burning *after* a fire has gone through. I'd love to learn more about this magical land where fuels regenerate instantly. There is spatio-temporal variability in fire return intervals in these "firehawk" landscapes, just as there is in all terrestrial landscapes.
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Old 24th February 2018, 09:51 PM   #310
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Originally Posted by The Shrike View Post
As for my so-called ludicrous speculation about seasonality of fire in northern Australia, I'm yet to hear an explanation of what is burning *after* a fire has gone through. I'd love to learn more about this magical land where fuels regenerate instantly. There is spatio-temporal variability in fire return intervals in these "firehawk" landscapes, just as there is in all terrestrial landscapes.
My house was involved in the big bushfires in the Blue mountains a while back, there were spot fires flaring up in already burnt areas for days (although badly burnt, not 100% of all materials are burnt completely, and embers from smouldering logs etc can last for days causing reignition)
I'll have to see if I can find them, I have pictures somewhere of an old bus that was on the property that was literally puddles of metal on the ground, and the rear lenses on my car were melted, despite the fire being over 100m away and the car sitting in our dam with water up to the floor
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Old 25th February 2018, 01:45 AM   #311
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Originally Posted by The Shrike View Post
Indeed, the "mistaken snake" hypothesis is merely that: a hypothesis to potentially explain anecdotal claims of raptors carrying burning sticks.
Very early on, I suggested another reason why birds might pick up sticks. They do it all the time and, as I've described, I've even observed birds flying around with burning straws, but it didn't appear to be intentional.
But the fans of the intelligent-fire-starting-birds hypothesis tend to forget that in order to persuade skeptics that the alleged phenomenon actually exists, they not only need to prove intentionality, but also that the alleged observations that they seem to accept as as proof of intentionality are more than anecdotal. (Very similar to my own observation of love birds in my kitchen: I know what I saw, but if I had to prove what I saw, I would need more than that.)
Footage of other birds doing other amazing feats doesn't prove that birds spread fires - intentionally or unintentionally. Nor do enhanced photos of birds in the vicinity of fires.

Is the hypothesis then made more reliable by these references?
Yes, about as much as Bigfoot observations are made more reliable by references to stories about the observations of gorillas and kangaroos being disbelieved a couple of hundred years ago ...
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Old 25th February 2018, 01:52 AM   #312
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Originally Posted by Dabop View Post
... the rear lenses on my car were melted, despite the fire being over 100m away and the car sitting in our dam with water up to the floor

That is proof positive! In a dam of water! Must've been an up-to-no-good bird with a burning stick!
(By the way, is that how you usually park cars in Australia?!)
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Old 25th February 2018, 04:12 AM   #313
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It is when you have a 30km plus firefront heading right at you and the only road out (putty highway) is closed at multiple locations due to fires....

We only survived (meaning the house) as we regularly hazard reduction burnt every year, the neighbour who disagreed with burnoffs lost everything, the flames visibly grew as they hit his land.
Borrowing the quarries bulldozer helped- very sandy soil, I just dropped the blade next to the house and drove in circles until there was nothing burnable anywhere near it.
Was a very bad situation, one bushie truck was lost with all crew only a few km down the road, fire caught them

It caused a major shift in emergency services thinking, all petrol powered units and pumps were retired from service (about time, a lot of those old bedfords were built before I was born!) and one bugbear- radio comms- was gradually remedied (town trucks couldnt talk to bushies trucks, police couldnt talk to ambos or fireies, airwing couldnt talk to anyone on the ground- was a real shamozle
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Old 25th February 2018, 09:07 AM   #314
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Hard to imagine when you live in cold, damp Denmark!
Forest fires do happen, but they are few and soon defeated. I never heard of loss of human life.
And no reports of arsonist birds ... or squirrels.
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Old 25th February 2018, 10:03 AM   #315
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I just looked it up on wiki, numbers seem close to what I remember
8000 sq km was burnt out (in just NSW mind you) 20000 firefighters involved from 4 states- which was part of the communications fiasco as none used the same frequencies etc on their radios

To give you an idea of how big this was- imagine 1/5 of Denmark ablaze......
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Old 25th February 2018, 03:25 PM   #316
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Originally Posted by Dabop View Post
My house was involved in the big bushfires in the Blue mountains a while back, there were spot fires flaring up in already burnt areas for days (although badly burnt, not 100% of all materials are burnt completely, and embers from smouldering logs etc can last for days causing reignition)
I'm sorry you endured that - wildfire is indeed terrifying.

Flare-ups from an existing fire I'd just consider the same fire, though. It's a discrete event that can last a few hours or a few days, depending on conditions. The subtle, relevant part here is the home range size of a foraging "firehawk" and the frequency of fire within that home range. I'm skeptical that that frequency is any more than a few days out of the year because fires need fuels. Once the fuels are consumed in one fire, that spot can't carry another one until new fuels build up.
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Old 25th February 2018, 05:18 PM   #317
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Quote:
For that period, the Commission calculated the number of bushfires in Australia varied from approximately 46,000 to 62,000 fires per year, with an average of close to 54,000 fires per year.

The Insititute of Criminology - which used data from fire agencies from 1995-06 to 2005-06 - said the Commission's figures agreed "quite closely" with their own average of nearly 52,000 fires per year.
We even call late summer "bushfire season"- because they are so frequent
(from http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/au...1126-jtfs.html)
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Old 25th February 2018, 05:28 PM   #318
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Black kites in particular are very intelligent birds and work cooperatively in groups. They can range hundreds of kilometers so I see no real issues with them using fire as a tool, they can unlatch garbage bins to get at food inside
In mythbuster terminology I'd say plausible but unconfirmed
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Old 25th February 2018, 05:38 PM   #319
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
... I've even observed birds flying around with burning straws, ...
Wow! That's amazing. Regardless of intent you are saying you've personally observed birds with burning straws in their beaks?

That is half the observation. Not saying it proves anything about intent, just that it is an important observation, an important step.

Of course it's another anecdote.
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Old 26th February 2018, 01:57 AM   #320
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Originally Posted by Dabop View Post
Black kites in particular are very intelligent birds and work cooperatively in groups. They can range hundreds of kilometers
I'm not so sure as yourself about this "fact", e.g.,
Home Range.
When M. migrans is not migrating, its home range is close to its roosting site. Exact territory size for this species is currently unknown.
(Australian/Asian poplulations generally do not migrate. So the home range may be more restricted than you "know".
Quote:
so I see no real issues with them using fire as a tool, they can unlatch garbage bins to get at food inside
These actions are quite different from each other.
Lifting a barrier to get at food you know is there is basic foraging.
Deliberately picking up a brand and starting a bushfire with it is quite something else.
Evidence of one behaviour cannot necessarily be used to infer evidence of the other.[/quote]
In mythbuster terminology I'd say plausible but unconfirmed[/quote]I'm in the perhaps possible camp.
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