Thursday, July 21, 2016

"How To Summon The Bird That Guides You To Honey"


The honeyguide is a small African bird, whose scientific name—Indicator indicator—hints at its extraordinary behavior. It eats beeswax, and although it excels at finding bees’ nests, it can’t sneak past the stinging insects alone. Instead, it recruits humans. It approaches them, makes a loud “tirr-tirr-tirr-tirr” call, and flies in the direction of a nest. Throughout Africa, people have learned to follow it. They subdue the bees with fire and tools, and steal the delicious honey. To pay their avian guide, many of them leave pieces of wax behind. This is arguably the greatest partnership between humans and any wild animal.