And God Created ...


One Honey Of A Bird

David Everson

Among the amazing animals God created is one that has an understanding about how to use humans and other animals to get to its favorite meal. The animal we are going to talk about is a bird, the Honeyguide of Africa. These birds have the amazing ability to get food by leading humans and other animals to bee hives where the hive is opened and then the bird has supper. Let's look at some of the amazing details of the Honeyguide.

The Honeyguide belongs to the family of birds called the Indicatoridae which was so named for the birds' ability to indicate where a bee hive can be found. The best known of this family is the Genus Indicator, in which the Honeyguide bird belongs. The native tribesmen know that if they listen to and follow these birds for miles into the bush, they will find a rich supply of honey.

The Honeyguide can memorize where each beehive can be found over a huge area of the bush. When they need food, the birds will find a human to lead to the food. By giving loud attention-demanding chattering and by flitting nervously around people, the bird will signal the need for the human to follow. The bird will then fly a little ahead and call loudly; when the human catches up, the bird flies on. This process will continue - maybe for many miles - until the bird reaches the hive. The bird will then change its call and sit in one place near the hive. Once the tribesmen have opened the hive and gotten their honey, the bird will move in and eat the grubs as well as the bees' wax of the honeycomb. They have also been known to eat candle wax.

The Honeyguide will also try this same type of behavior with a mammal called the Honey Badger. There has been some speculation about whether the Honey Badger follows because it knows food will be found by following the bird, or whether the bird follows the badger when it finds a beehive.

The Honeyguide has a very thick skin that may protect it from the stings of the angry bees after the hive has been raided.

These birds also have a unique breeding behavior that depends upon other birds to feed and raise their young. This behavior is called "brood parasites." The mother Honeyguide will find a nest of one of several species of other birds. It prefers a bird called the Bee-eater. She will then enter the nest and lay a single egg. The Honeyguide may also "pip" the host nest egg(s). This is the pecking of a small hole in the shell which then slows down or stops development of the host egg. If any of the host nest eggs develop and hatch, the baby Honeyguide will peck its nest-mates with an especially sharp, curved beak. This repeated pecking will eventually cause the death of the host mother's chicks. The host mother will then raise the baby Honeyguide which will even produce calls that mimic the call of several Bee-eater baby chicks. This appears to be a strong stimulus for the host mother to bring extra food for the baby which then grows at a very rapid rate.

Indeed, God has created some amazing animals to share this planet we call earth, and the Honeyguide is one of the best examples. How this bird could learn that attracting humans or Honey Badgers could get it food - if God did not create this behavior in the first bird - is very hard to imagine. Yet, it appears that many people choose not to believe what has been created around them. Rt. 1 Box 116A, Belington, WV 26250.


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