Wildfire smoke reduces Little Eagle (Hieraaetus morphnoides) flight activity

Stuart Rae*, Renee Brawata, Claire Wimpenny, Micah Davies, Jaimie Hopkins

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    There have been few empirical studies of the sensitivity of birds to the effect of air pollutants. In late 2019 and early 2020 the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and much of south-eastern Australia were affected by extreme wildfire events and smoke extended to surrounding areas. Prior to this event, GPS transmitters had been fitted to a sample of Little Eagles Hieraaetus morphnoides in the ACT as part of a study of their movement behaviour. Three of these birds carried transmitters in the breeding season during the fires and in the previous breeding season. This offered opportunistic analysis of data from both periods to test for effects of smoke on the birds’ flight behaviour. The effects of particulate matter in the air of ≤2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5) and covariates on flight status were investigated with a binomial generalised linear model with logistic link. The birds were more likely to fly when there were low levels of PM2.5 and the odds of flying decreased as density of PM2.5 increased at a rate of 0.202% per ug/m3. None of the sample birds died during or after smoke exposure, although their respiratory system might have been affected.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)357-363
    Number of pages7
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2023


    Dive into the research topics of 'Wildfire smoke reduces Little Eagle (Hieraaetus morphnoides) flight activity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this