Unusual bird-human collaboration: African honey hunters

Last Updated: July 23, 2016
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People and birds in Africa help each other in the honey searching. An African honey is the best in the world, but it’s hard to find sometimes. That’s why people rely on the assistance of birds. Flitting and calling, the bird leads the way to a bee nest and feasts on the wax left after the hunters have raided it. The biologists published a great review in the Science on honey hunters in Africa and their relationships with the birds honeyguides.

Scientists showed in their article importance of the mutualistic relationship between honey hunters in Africa and the birds which help them in the searchings. Asa matter of fact, this relationship is even tighter than it seemed. The bird recognizing and responding to specific calls from its human partners.

A bird-human partnership in honey searching runs even deeper than scientists thought
A bird-human partnership in honey searching runs even deeper than scientists thought

According to the evolutionary biologist Claire Spottiswoode:

“is the first to provide clear and direct evidence that honeyguides respond to specialized human signals … and that the birds associate those signals with potential benefits.”

Unusual relationship demonstrates that both honeyguide and human behavior have coevolved in response to each other. Sounds fantastic, but the honeyguide literally understands what the human is saying, noted Kenyan ornithologist Hussein Isack, who work at the Niassa National Reserve in Mozambique.

 

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