Tag Archives: Indicator birds

Honeyguides know about the birds and the bees


Ever want to find a honeycomb? Look no further than your friendly Honeyguides. Honeyguides are also known as indicator birds or honey birds because they have a tendency to lead humans directly to bee colonies. The Honeyguides use their demanding call to lead humans through forests and directly to bee hives. Of course there’s a selfish motive involved – once humans take the honey, these birds feast on the grubs and beeswax in the nests. The diet of the Honeyguide is wide ranging. In addition to the fruits of the honeycomb, these birds eat all types of larvae and flying insects. They will also eat spiders and fruits.

They are usually dull-colored (brownish and greenish), while some do have bright yellow coloring in the plumage. They all have light outer tail feathers, small heads with short bills and raised nostrils. Their actual size varies from 10-20 centimeters. These birds have strong legs and toes for clinging to tree barks. Their wings are long, narrow, and pointed to allow vigorous flying and impressive maneuvering.

Honeyguides are typically found in Sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia. They love to inhabit forests and woodland areas as well as the tree-line areas in the mountains. As far as migration, Honeyguides are known to be stable residents that may remain in the same area for as long as a year.

Honeyguides have an interesting egg laying process. For starters, they like to use the nests of other birds for their eggs. They usually drop their eggs in other host nests, so that their eggs will hatch along with the host’s eggs. Timing is everything if they want to be successful. Female Honeyguides can be in danger if the hosts notice that they are invading their nests. Typically, the female has 10-15 seconds to lay an egg and leave. Females can lay as many as 20 eggs in a season.

These birds are extremely resourceful and intelligent. From the way they assist their human counterparts for a meal to their daring egg laying practices, Honeyguides are intriguing creatures.