Where there’s smokes there are raptors


Natural Newstead

It’s autumn and it’s smoky. At this time of year the smell of burning stubble pervades our local landscape, although perhaps less so than in years gone by. A gradual shift to low or no-till farming systems has seen a decline in this practice in recent times.

Birds of prey are often attracted to fire – in northern Australia large flocks of raptors, often numbering in the hundreds, will gather to feed on animals disturbed during burns. We don’t get anywhere near these numbers in southern Australia, but it is not unusual to see congregating raptors around stubble burns during autumn. Such was the case a few days back on the Moolort Plains, with a loose flock that included Brown Falcons, Whistling Kites and a young Wedge-tailed Eagle in attendance at a small stubble fire.

A useful background article on stubble burning can be accessed here.

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