Sadly there is a tendency for those not used to a place or situation to reject the words of those who claim to have seen things while living in the area. Having lived in many places I am familiar with that risk. The stories you are told just feel too far fetched. Yet when you see them played out you face the same scepticism from others you originally felt when you heard it the first time. So perhaps he was simply recognising the innate xenophobia of all people. For most people it does not exist unless they see it for themselves.
For the record, I can well believe that birds will learn and pass on knowledge to others in their group. The birds probably do not want an all out fire, the threat of smoke is probably enough to harry prey. If carrying a few smouldering twigs earns you a meal discount who would not do so? Is it so very different to those probably non aboriginal people gifting their soul, or their very being to a trader and getting a discount tag on their mobile device? I had a discounted meal on the basis of someone else's tag on Saturday, (I had declined to sign up to the place as I wanted my data to remain at least passably mine..