The Birds That Intentionally Set Fires

Fire is a way of life in Australia, where bushfires rage during the dry season and humans set controlled burns during the rest of the year. Every living thing on the continent has adapted to fire, including a species of birds — collectively referred to as “firehawks” — that have learned to use fire to their advantage. Firehawks carry sticks that are already burning from a wildfire and drop them into other areas to set new fires. As small mammals and insects race to escape the flames and smoke, they become easy pickings for the firehawks. Researchers say this proves birds are smarter than we think. They not only have amazing problem-solving skills, but they display a lot of tool-using behaviors.