Wild Birds Help Humans Hunt Honey

Posted: Jul 22 2016, 3:55am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News


Wild Birds Help Humans Hunt Honey
Yao honey-hunter Orlando Yassene holds a wild greater honeyguide female (temporarily captured for research) in the Niassa National Reserve, Mozambique. This material relates to a paper that appeared in the July 22, 2016, issue of Science, published by AAAS. The paper, by C.N. Spottiswoode at University of Cambridge in Cambridge, UK, and colleagues was titled, "Reciprocal signaling in honeyguide-human mutualism." Credit: Claire N. Spottiswoode
  • Humans and Avians cooperate regarding Certain Matters

Today humans and avians are cooperating regarding certain matters. A bird is being used to lead honey hunters to beehives.

Human beings in search of honey in Mozambique often tend to use birds in their quest. The birds also respond to the calls from human beings. They are a bunch of special calls that imitate birdsong.

On the whole, the birds are able to specifically answer to the calls from human beings and respond in an appropriate manner. This is a scarce example of mutual harmony between human beings and animals. 

Termed the Indicator Indicator, the bird acts as a guide for human beings in their search for honey. It flies from tree to tree indicating in the process the whereabouts of beehives laden with honey.

This is beneficial for human beings. The bird enjoys the beewax of the beehive which is left behind after the humans have taken all the honey. Thus both the bird and the human agents are satisfied from this relationship in the end.

In Mozambique, one of the tribes (known as the Yao) use a special call to signal to the Indicator Indicator to become a honey guide. The sound is actually a voluble trill followed with a grunt towards the end. 

Over 20 Yao men from the tribe were interviewed by the researchers. They used what can only be termed the “brrr-hm” call to attract the birds. These men learnt these calls from their fathers.

The scientists conducting the study, published in the journal Science, noted down that this mutualistic relationship was very efficient in its purpose. They followed the trail of the honey guide birds.

Over 75% of the human-bird interactions paid off in the form of the discovery of at least one beehive laden with honey. It was a win-win situation. 

Next the honey guide birds were subjected to two control sounds besides the “brrr-hm” signal. Thus three individuals walked around for a time span of 15 minutes constantly making the three sounds (one being genuine and the other two being control sounds).

The birds remained true to their origins and responded only to the “brrr-hm” sound each time. They tended to ignore the other two control sounds. This “brrr-hm” sound increased the likelihood of being guided by the honey guide from 33% to 66%.

Also the probability of being led to a beehive increased from 16% to 54%. This shows that human beings need not remain in conflict with animal species. The two can cooperate on many matters as well. 

You May Like


The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
Sumayah Aamir (Google+) has deep experience in analyzing the latest trends.




Leave a Comment

Share this Story

Follow Us
Follow I4U News on Twitter
Follow I4U News on Facebook

Read the Latest from I4U News