Greater Honeyguide

Introduction: Greater honeyguides (Indicator indicator) can be found in a variety of habitats including savannah, forests, treed watercourses in dry areas, riverine forest, woodland, all environments with flowering trees and bees. They can also adapt to plantations and orchards. The most fascinating feature of the greater honeyguide is their ability to locate bee hives and wait for potential symbionts, (mainly humans) to approach or pass by. This guiding behaviour is inherited, not learned. Song posts are used year round.

Honeyguides initiate a 'chatter' whilst perched on a branch, in the hope of attracting attention. Once noticed, they will fly to another perch performing an exaggerated flight path en-route. It will then watches and waits for the human to follow. This process is repeated until a change in behaviour indicates the location of the hive. The honeyguide will turn back if not followed. There skills will then be rewarded when the hive is opened, waiting patiently for their reward. Chacma baboons and honeybadgers are believed to follow this process although no sightings of these actions have ever been recorded of a honeyguide leading any other mammal to a hive other than a human being.

Distribution: Absent from most of Namibia less for isolated populations, such as the wooded regions of Waterberg Plateau.

Diet: Eats bees' eggs, larvae and wax, ants and beetles.

Description: Olive grey or brown plumage with other colours making it distinct from other honeyguides. The bill is black or brownish and the legs and feet grey to purplish grey.

Breeding: 4 to 7 eggs are laid in hole nests or alien nests.

Size: 20cm.

Weight: 50g.

Birds of Namibia Wildlife of Namibia

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