As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Study finding underscores unique relationship between humans and honeyguides

Submitted by NATALIA HALL on FRI, 07/22/2016 - 10:59

An African bird known as Greater honeyguide is well known for leading people to honey, and as per a latest study the birds pay attention to some particular human calls to determine who wants to play follow-the-leader. The discovery has underscored the unique relationship that humans and this wild bird share.

Claire Spottiswoode of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom said that they are certainly neither domesticated nor coerced in any way. Spottiswoode added that the birds aren’t taught in any conventional way also. Of course, humans won’t intentionally visit them and train honeyguides.

When Spottiswoode was just an 11-year-old kid in Cape Town, South Africa, she heard of the honeyguide while she went for a meeting of her local bird club and come across a lecture from a scientist dubbed H.A. Isack, the pioneer of honeyguide studies.

He published a rigorous study in the journal Science in 1989 demonstrating that the legends regarding the honeyguide were real. The birds indeed flutter in front of people, tweet, and fly from a tree to another, guiding hunters to the bees’ nests present within the trunks of hollow trees.

Spottiswoode mentioned, “By following honeyguides, human honey hunters can really increase their rate of finding bees nests”.

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