The Avian Honeyguides of Africa

greater honeyguide

South of the great Sahara Desert in North Africa, there lives a bird called the greater honeyguide (Indicator indicator) that has developed a special symbiotic relationship with the local honey hunters. The honeyguide eats beeswax, and although it is excellent at finding bees’ nests, it’s unable to sneak past the stinging bees alone. Instead, it approaches humans and makes a loud chirping noise to attract their attention. Then it flies in the direction of the nest. Over the centuries, local tribes have learned to follow the bird. Once the bees are subdued with smoke, and the honey extracted, the hunters leave behind the beeswax as payment to their avian guide.

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