Honeyguide - Wikipedia
I recently wrote a piece about a bird called the greater honeyguide, whose chicks brutally murder those of other birds. But honeyguides are. Honeyguides (family Indicatoridae) are a near passerine bird species of the order Piciformes. lead humans (but, contrary to popular claims, not honey badgers) directly to bee "Reciprocal signaling in honeyguide-human mutualism". Humans have few wild friends, but the honeyguide birds who lead Mozambican hunters to honey give us hope for relationships with mutual.
The most regularly documented of these is the relationship between the pale chanting-goshawk Melierax canorus and badgers.
During the recently completed 42 months of badger research in the Kalahari this fascinating association was recorded on a regular basis.
As many as six goshawks were seen following a single badger.
Can the honeyguide show us a new way to connect with nature?
In the Kalahari this behaviour can best be seen during the dry winter months when badgers spend much of the day foraging. The badgers are powerful and prolific diggers and repeatedly flush rodents and reptiles from their underground refuges, ideal prey for the goshawks.
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In addition to badgers pale chanting-goshawks have also been recorded following slender mongoose, Galerella sanguinea and snakes in what appear to be similar associations. The dark chanting goshawk Melierax metabates has been observed following Ground hornbills, Bucorvus leadbeateri.
In addition we are aware of two anecdotal observations of the dark chanting- goshawk Melierax metabates P. Honey-guides and badgers have been observed together on a number of occasions but such the association is disputed by some ornithologists. The research in the Kalahari where the greater honey-guide does not occur suggests that elements of both arguments are incorrect, simply because so little information has been available on badger behaviour in the wild; for instance, badgers are competent tree climbers and do break into bee hives during the day contrary to previous scientific opinion.
In Niassa Reserve, Mozambique where both species exist, the Greater honey-guide was seen with the honey badger on only one occasion although badgers were regularly seen to break into hives and honey guides are common. It is possible that the honeyguide follows the badger similar to the badger —goshawk rather than the badger following the bird.
There is no doubt that the honey-guide leads man to hives. We have personally observed this on many occasions.
Spotted Eagle-owl, Bubo africanus Spotted eagle-owls have been recorded following honey badgers in the Kalahari. This association was first reported by P Steyn in who states that the eagle-owl was seen in the company of a Pale chanting-goshawk in broad daylight as they followed a badger. Badgers and other mammals African wildcat, Ethiopian wolves, and black-backed jackals have all been observed following honey badgers during both the day and the night.
Think of the traditional fishermen of Japan and Chinawith their cormorants that they send to the depths of rivers to collect fish that they then share with their masters.
Think of the rats that locate landmines in exchange for treats. That hawk they get out at Wimbledon every year. There is only one hand on the tiller, steering it toward human profit — a human one.
We own the deal, nearly always, when we work with other animals. And they become, bit-by-bit, spoilt as a result.
Not that the honeyguide is a saint, of course. It does its fair share of cheating: The honeyguide has negotiated what is possibly the first ever trade deal between a wild animal and a human There is one other animal with whom we might have developed a mutualistic relationship: Not all dolphins, just a tiny sub-population of bottlenose dolphins in Laguna, Brazil.
The scientists assume they benefit from the overflow of fish from the nets, but no one can be quite sure.
Even still, the honeyguide is more impressive. It is a mutualist that retains a certain aloofness.The Hadza: Last of the First - Honeyguide Bird
It remains slightly mysterious and slightly wild. It is interesting to me that so few animals have such relationships with us like this one. It speaks volumes, I think, of the human species. And so I salute the honeyguide. This extraordinary bird has somehow negotiated what is possibly the first ever trade deal between a wild animal and a human.
biosystems: The Honey-Guide and the Honey Badger(Ratel): A true story of love and symbiosis.
It is a beacon of trusting union in a world of suspicion. Perhaps the only wild friends we have. I hope one day we might have more.