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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 09, 2021

Honeyguide: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

Honeyguide facts that will amaze you

In this Kidadl article, we shall be learning about such a bird species, which is noted as one of the most intelligent birds with great tactics. These are the honeyguide birds that live in the Saharan and southern Sub-Saharan region in Africa.

There are around 16-17 different species available of this bird in the family Indicatoridae. Eight out of all the species are brood parasites that perform their nesting in other bird's nests. The selected hosts do the whole parenting and supply food for eating until the chicks in nests are independent enough for flying apart. Honeyguides are solitary birds that generally avoid any form of intra-species interaction, coming together only for mating.

Further in the article, we shall be discussing some interesting and funny honeyguide bird facts which will surely amaze you. So keep reading!

And if you like reading bird facts, then check out our hawk facts and parrot facts page.

Honeyguide Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a honeyguide?

The honeyguide is a bird species found in the continent of Africa and rarely in Asia. These birds belong to the family Indicatoridae and are near passerine birds. They seem very much similar to the woodpeckers in shape but differ a lot in colors.

What class of animal does a honeyguide belong to?

The greater honeyguide bird belongs to the class of Aves, family Indicatoridae, order Piciformes, and genus Indicator. Their scientific name is kept by keeping in mind their habit of guiding people to honeycombs. The scientific name of the greater honeyguide is the Indicator indicator.

How many honeyguides are there in the world?

The widespread population of honeyguide birds doesn't have an exact number count. There are different species of honeyguides that inhabit the forests and shrublands in sub-Saharan Africa.

Where does a honeyguide live?

Honeyguides are the inhabitants of the continent of Africa and can be found open in nature flying from one tree to another. They live in the woodlands, shrublands, near rivers, and places where there is abundant food available.

What is a honeyguide's habitat?

There are a lot of honeyguide species available in Africa. Among all of them, the most common honeyguide species is the greater honeyguide birds. They live in the sub-Saharan region in Africa. They generally inhabit the Savannas, woodlands, and shrublands. They build their nest high in the trees there but are normally seen near the ground throughout the whole day.

Who do honeyguides live with?

Honeyguides are solitary birds in nature. They can't be generally seen in groups. They live in places where there is abundant food available for them. They have a great connection with humans and honey badgers.

How long does a honeyguide live?

Honeyguide birds have an average life span of around 10-12 years. It is just a vague view as there is no exact proof to it. There are around 16-17 honeyguide bird species that live in Africa. So, all the species live up to a certain age and the estimated lifespan of 10-12 years is the average life span of all these birds.

How do they reproduce?

Eight species of the genus Indicator are brood parasites like the cuckoo. One of these eight species, the greater honeyguide, mates between the months of September and October (breeding season). Honeyguide birds are solitary birds that come together only for the purpose of breeding, and once their breeding is done, then again, they fly back to their own respective worlds. The female honeyguides, after being impregnated, lay 5-7 eggs in a series (lay one egg daily). Being brood parasites, these birds lay their eggs in other bird's nests who act as the host. They usually choose the nest of birds like woodpeckers, barbets, kingfishers, bee-eaters, and swallows. The laid eggs go through an incubation period of around 18 days, and the young birds come out. But surprisingly, after taking birth, the first thing the young honeyguides do is that they destroy the host's eggs. Female honeyguides incubate their eggs inside them for a little time and then lay their eggs to make sure that their eggs hatch faster than the host's eggs. The host birds take care of the young honeyguide till they are independent enough to fly away.

What is their conservation status?

Among the Indicator species, the most widespread and famous is the greater honeyguide. According to the IUCN Red List, these birds fall under the conservation status of Least Concern which describes that their species is doing well in the world. They are widely present in their natural habitat across central and southern Africa.

Honeyguide Fun Facts

What do honeyguides look like?

Honeyguides are medium-sized birds found mainly in dry and arid sub-Saharan Africa. These birds show a range of woody colors in their body. All honeyguides are mostly dull-colored birds. The greater honeyguides have a dark brown colored upper body with a yellow touch to it and a light whitish underbody. The throat feathers in the males are blackish. They have a pink beak and a brown-yellow tail with white patches on them.

Honeyguides are one of the most intelligent birds

How cute are they?

Honeyguides are very intelligent birds. They are very cute and adorable. And to add more to their cuteness, they have the ability to understand human thoughts.

How do they communicate?

Honeyguides are solitary species that mostly live on their own. They create a moderately loud sound for communicating. They come together to create interaction in their breeding season. They sing songs to attract their mates. They are known as honeyguides because of their habit of guiding people towards honeycombs in forests. They gain people's attention through their long trills and take them to the nearest beehives.

How big is a honeyguide?

Honeyguides are medium-sized bird species found in the African Continent. Greater honeyguides are cunning birds who take birth in some other host bird's nest. Adult honeyguides grow up to a length of 7.9 in (20 cm), and their weight goes up to an average range of 1.8 oz (50 g).

How fast can a honeyguide fly?

Honeyguides can fly up in the air to an elevation or height of 9842.5 ft (3000 m). But they can usually be found sitting in trees searching for their prey. They can fly at a very good speed, but there is no exact information available on their speed limit.

How much does a honeyguide weigh?

There are lots of honeyguide species available in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of Africa. Out of all, the most famous and magnificent, the greater honeyguides grow up to a maximum length of 7.9 in (20 cm), and their weight can reach up to 1.8 oz (50g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names given to the male and female honeyguide birds. They are commonly known as honeyguides only. However, they differ in their morphology a bit. Both males and females are dull-colored, but the female being a little duller. Some visible differences between them are as follows.

Male birds have black-colored throat feathers, which females are devoid of. And males have a pink bill while females have a brown colored bill.

What would you call a baby honeyguide?

Just like other bird babies, baby honeyguides are also known as chicks. Honeyguide's babies have a cruel habit of killing the babies of their host after birth. They do it by using their razor-sharp bill to destroy the other eggs present in the nest.

What do they eat?

Honeyguides follow an omnivorous diet in nature. Their diet mainly consists of both insects and non-insect materials such as honey, fruits, and bee wax. They have a wide range of eating habits which consists of honey bees, spiders, grasshoppers, insect larvae (mainly bee larvae), fruits, honey, and bee wax.

Are they poisonous?

Honeyguides are not poisonous. They are just some omnivorous birds who live in the tropical and sub-tropical African region. They cause no harm to the human.

Would they make a good pet?

There is no information available about honeyguides being good pets. They are solitary, brood parasite birds that have distinct characteristics. They live in the open wild and prey on smaller insects. If someone tries to catch them and keep them as pets, it will surely cause harm to the bird.

Did you know...

Honeyguide birds can find honeycombs easily. They have thorough information about how many beehives are there in their territory.

With their attractive calls, they gain the attention of humans. Humans also take the help of these birds so that they can find honeycombs fast. After gaining the attention, they lead the way toward the nearest bee nest present in the territory so that they can feed on the honey and wax that are left behind by humans. They share a mutualistic relationship with humans.

Honeyguides are one of the few bird species that have the ability to digest wax. Another bird that can digest wax is the Honeybird (Prodotiscus).

What is the relationship between a honeyguide bird and a badger?

Honeyguides and honey badgers share a mutualistic relationship. They share the same relation with humans and baboons too. This bird and badger relation is doom for bees. Honeyguide birds gain the attention of animals (honey badgers) and lead (guide) them to the beehives. Once reaching the spot, the honey badger breaks the hive and opens it. Then both the bird and the badger feed on the honey.

Are they predators?

Honeyguides are natural predators of a lot of insects. Some of those are bees and spiders. The greater honeyguide primarily feeds on bees and food present in beehive-like honey, bee wax, and larvae.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these grey-cheeked parakeet facts and stilt owl facts page.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable greater honeyguides coloring pages.

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