Falcons are already pretty cool as they are, but these falcons make themselves a bit cooler. They do this by starting fires! These sleek animals are very intelligent and are able to use the environment to their advantage. So let's learn more about them and why they exhibit this interesting behavior.
Physical Description and Behavior
These birds are about 16-20 inches long, and generally have light crowns, off-white plumage on their chins, and a black streak that runs down their reddish-brown feathers. That said, they can come in a variety of tints, from far darker to fairly light to everything in between.
Fun fact: Also known as "firehawks" by aboriginals of Australia, these birds (and a few other species) are known to grab burning sticks from other fires and drop them into unburned forests. This sets other parts of the dry brushland or forests alight, chasing out small animals so the birds can feast on them. This information has been known to indigenous peoples of the area for tens of thousands of years but is just now being discovered by mainstream scientists.
Despite this behavior, the brown falcon's diet mainly consists of insects, especially during the winter months. During the warmer months, they are carnivorous and are known to eat small mammals, lizards, young rabbits, and snakes.
Habitat and Location
These birds are only found in Australia and Papa New Guinea. Despite this, their range is so large that they are not considered to be threatened according to the IUCN Red List. They prefer mostly open and unforested areas such as the savanna, grasslands, and even in places cultivated by humans.
While they generally live alone or in pairs, when food is abundant, they can travel in loose groups of up to 50 individuals.
You can watch these majestic birds in action by checking out the video below: