So, I often ask my husband “Why do we live here?” Ninety-five percent of the time it’s in jest, but usually my response to hearing about some new creature or plant or something that can kill me. Today’s deadly thing: Firehawks.

Firehawks is basically an Australian term for those rude birds that spread fire, literally. They consist of the black kite, whistling kite, and brown falcon species. Now these birds see a fire and they think, “hey, look at all that food running out of that flaming grass!” But that’s not good for them—apparently there’s more food in the area across the road where the fire can’t get to, or the firebreaks made by firefighters. So what do they do? They pick up a burning stick and carry to the unburned patch of land, and set it on fire too. Then they wait for more prey to flee the new flame and have a feast.

At first, I was thinking of rude these birds are (though with more curse words), but when you think about it, it’s actually quite clever. It’s a way for these birds to flush out a surplus of prey using a natural disaster. Unfortunately, this can also pose large risks to the human population, so I’m really on the fence about whether or not I’m impressed by these birds. On the bright side, apparently this act birds of spreading fire is rare. Some people have spent years studying the different species and haven’t seen a single instance of it, but others claim to have watched a bird set fire to new land with their own eyes. Still, if smoke can be seen from the sky, you can bet any black kites, whistling kites, and brown falcons will be making their way over there to hunt; probably along with some other bird species as well.

So, again, Australia has provided another creature intent on creating mayhem on this country. It’s a smart survival technique on the bird’s behalf, but could prove very dangerous to people. Some farmers have resorted to shooting birds, thinking they’re protecting their herds from the fire-spreaders. Hopefully, this year, we won’t have any mischievous birds adding to the chaos of bushfires.

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