Honeyguide - A Bird That Deals With Humans
June 07, 2014 / Jigar Patel
Honeyguide birds are found in parts of Africa and Asia. Their main diet is beeswax. However, they don’t have a beak strong enough to break beehives. Hence, they guide Honey Badgers - whose main diet is honey and who because of its tiny legs can not scout for beehives in large area - to beehives. When Honey Badger is done with eating honey, the bird feasts on wax.
This symbiotic relationship between Honey Badgers and Honeyguides has been known to biologists. However, in 1980’s biologists found out that a similar mutual understading exists between certain African tribes (Borana Tribes) and Honeyguides. Borana tribal people summon Honeyguide by whistling a peculiar sound using both of their palms. A Honeyguide responds by making a specific sound which implies “Follow me!”. A Honeyguide knows locations of all beehives within an area of 250 kms.
This is probably the only known example of animals communicating with humans for mutual benefits.
These two clips show recordings of such behaviour.