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 Post subject: Honeyguide: Greater
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2006 12:39 pm 
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Greater Honeyguide (Indicator indicator)

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Other names:
Afrikaans: Grootheuningwyser
German: Großer Honiganzeiger, Schwarzkehl-Honiganzeiger
French: Grand Indicateur
Portuguese: Indicador-grande
Dutch: Grote honingspeurder

Info from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Greater Honeyguide (Indicator indicator) is a bird in the family Indicatoridae, paleotropical near passerine birds related to the woodpeckers. Its English and scientific names refer to its habit of guiding people to bee colonies.

The Greater Honeyguide is a resident breeder in sub-Saharan Africa. It is found in a variety of habitats that have trees, especially dry open woodland, but not in the West African jungle.

Description
The Greater Honeyguide is about 20cm long and weighs about 50 g. Like all African honeyguides, it has bold white patches on the sides of the tail. The male has dark grey-brown upperparts and white underparts, with a black throat. The wings are streaked whitish, and there is a yellow shoulder patch. The bill is pink.

The female is duller and lacks the black throat. Her bill is blackish. Immature birds are very distinctive, having olive-brown upperparts with a white rump and yellow throat and upper breast.

Diet
Bee colonies
The Greater Honeyguide feeds primarily on the contents of bee colonies ("hives"): bee eggs, larvae and pupae; waxworms; and beeswax. (Honeyguides are among the few birds that can digest wax.) It frequently associates with other honeyguides at hives; immatures dominate adults, and immatures of this species dominate all others. Like other honeyguides, the Greater Honeyguide enters hives while the bees are torpid in the early morning, feeds at abandoned hives (African bees desert more often than those of the temperate zones), and scavenges at hives robbed by humans or other large animals, notably the Ratel or honey badger. Most remarkably, it also guides people to hives.

Guiding is unpredictable and is more common among immatures and females than adult males. A guiding bird attracts a person's attention with wavering, chattering "'tya' notes compounded with peeps or pipes" (Short and Horne 2002a), sounds it also gives in aggression. The guiding bird flies toward an occupied hive (Greater Honeyguides know the sites of many hives in their territories) and then stops and calls again. As in other situations, it spreads its tail, showing the white spots, and has a "bounding, upward flight to a perch", which make it conspicuous. If the followers are native honey-hunters, when they reach the hive they incapacitate the adult bees with smoke and open the hive with axes or pangas (machetes). After they take the honey, the honeyguide eats whatever is left. The tradition of the Bushmen and most other tribes says that the honeyguide must be thanked with a gift of honey; if not, it may lead its follower to a lion, bull elephant, or venomous snake as punishment. However, "others maintain that honeycomb spoils the bird, and leave it to find its own bits of comb" (Short, Horne, and Diamond 2003).

Guiding of non-human animals?
Many sources, such as Attenborough (1998) and the African Wildlife Foundation, say that this species also guides Ratels. Friedmann (1955, quoted by Harper) notes that Sparrman said in the 18th century that indigenous Africans reported this interaction, but Friedmann adds that no biologist has seen it. According to Dean and MacDonald (1981), Friedmann does quote reports that Greater Honeyguides guide baboons and speculates that the behavior evolved in relation to these species before the appearance of humanity. However, they state, "In addition to that listed by Friedmann (1955:41-47), the only recent record is of a Greater Honeyguide giving its guiding call to baboons at Wankie Game Reserve, Zimbabwe (C. J. Vernon, pers. comm.). However, Vernon did not see a positive response by the baboons to the honeyguide. No additional records of honeyguides and Ratels have been reported since Friedmann (1955) and the first-hand accounts given in his review in support of this association are all of incomplete guiding sequences. No biologist has ever reported this association." They doubt that honeyguides guide other animals and suggest that the behavior may have evolved with "early man". Short and Horne (2002b) agree, noting that bee colonies are seasonally very common in Africa and Ratels probably have no trouble finding them.
Another argument against guiding of non-human animals is that near cities, where Africans increasingly buy sugar rather than hunting for wild honey, guiding behavior is disappearing. Ultimately it may disappear everywhere (Short, Horne, and Diamond 2003).

Other food
The Greater Honeyguide also catches some flying insects, especially swarming termites. It sometimes follows mammals or birds to catch the insects they flush, and joins mixed-species flocks in ones and twos. It has been known to eat the eggs of small birds.

Reproduction
In addition to being a predator of insects and a mutualist with its follower species, the Greater Honeyguide is a brood parasite. It lays white eggs in series of 3 to 7, for a total of 10 to 20 in a year. Each egg is laid in a different nest of a bird of another species, including some woodpeckers, barbets, kingfishers, bee-eaters, woodhoopoes, starlings, and large swallows. All the species parasitized nest in holes, covered nests, or deep cup nests. The chick has a membranous hook on the bill that it uses, while still blind and featherless, to kill the host's young outright or by repeated wounds.


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Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2006 7:16 pm 
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That first pic was great. We had one every day and his lady at Bateleur Hut No 1 when we stayed there for 5 days in Dec 2004 and they used to come very confidingly to the huts birdbath but sadly were continually chased away by the visiting hordes gawking at our accommodation when they popped in on their way to Rooibosrant Dam

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 Post subject: Re: Greater Honeyguide
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 6:29 pm 
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I was lucky enough to have Hoopoes nesting in my neighbour's roof, with the entrance facing my property. Then I had a pair of Greater Honeyguides around my garden for a while. The Hoopoes hatched a chick and you could hear it daily. Imagine my surprise (and joy at the expense of the Hoopoes!) that one day a juvenile Greater Honeyguide popped his head out!

It was really amazing to see the reluctant foster parents feed this bird at a rate and felt quite sorry for them when the baby finally left the nest - the juvenile was constantly being chased around by other birds while the foster parents were going after it to feed it!

I think a juvenile Greater Honeyguide is one of the prettiest birds around.


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 Post subject: Re: Greater Honeyguide
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 9:50 pm 
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Is there anywhere in Gauteng area where this bird can be seen, that anyone knows off?

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 Post subject: Re: Greater Honeyguide
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 9:05 am 
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Yolandé, I regularly hear them calling "Victorrrr, Victorrrr" along the Braamfontein Spruit, especially where there many taller trees like Bluegums or Poplars. Recently heard one at Delta Park and also at the Field And Study Centre in Parkmore. Unfortunately I can't help you with a spot right now where you'll be guaranteed a sighting, though...

Good luck! :pray:


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 Post subject: Re: Greater Honeyguide
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 1:17 pm 
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I have found this bird 3 out of 3 times over aperiod of 6 months now on the Mamba road in the Seringveld. I've heard it call in Golden Harvest as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Honeyguide: Greater
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 5:32 pm 
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Yesterday I heard the Honeyguides distinctive call in a garden in Kensington near Jeppe Boys High. I was waiting in the car for my son and had no binoculars with me, but I went looking for it anyway. It just teased me with its call but did not show itself :twisted:

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - General Birds
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2011 12:26 pm 
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Hope this question is not out of place.

Could I have heard a Greater Honeyguide in the West Park Cemetary area of Joburg? I heard what I am sure was one this morning. Tried to find it in next door's tree but didn't get to see it.


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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - General Birds
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:22 am 
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chirinda wrote:
Hope this question is not out of place.

Could I have heard a Greater Honeyguide in the West Park Cemetary area of Joburg? I heard what I am sure was one this morning. Tried to find it in next door's tree but didn't get to see it.


Hi chirinda ,

If you click on this SABAP2 link you'll see Gauteng is pretty much covered in sightings of the Greater Honeyguide.

So to answer your quetsion ...... ABSOLUTELY !! It's very possible that you could have heard the bird calling. :D


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 Post subject: Re: Honeyguide: Greater
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:56 pm 
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francoisd wrote:
All the species parasitized nest in holes, covered nests, or deep cup nests. The chick has a membranous hook on the bill that it uses, while still blind and featherless, to kill the host's young outright or by repeated wounds.

This has now been filmed, have a look here.

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 Post subject: Re: Honeyguide: Greater
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 9:17 am 
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This Greater Honeyguide gave me a serious headache in terms of ID'ing it last week. I have never seen a juvenile up until now, so it was quite cool to learn something new.

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 Post subject: Re: Honeyguide: Greater
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 9:22 am 
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