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Indicatoridae


Kingdom: Animalia        Phylum: Chordata        Class: Aves (Birds)        Order: Piciformes        Family: Indicatoridae

Indicatoridae (Honeyguides) are small to medium arboreal birds having drab brownish and greenish plumage with distinct white outer-tail markings. They have small heads with short bills. Sizes vary from 10 to 20 cm and weight from 12 to 60 gm. Indicatoridae range from Sub-Saharan Africa to southern Asia. They inhabit woodland along streams in near-desert habitat; and lowlands to near tree-line in mountainous areas.

All birds of Indicatoridae family (Honeyguides) are nest parasites and use cavity nesters as well as some cup nester species as hosts. Known host species are: Bee-Eaters (Meropidae), Kingfishers & Mynas (Sturnidae). Honeyguide chicks hatch out altricial. Even so, the naked and blind neonate, which has a well-developed egg tooth and curved membranous hooks on the tips of its mandibles, moves its head around biting and clinging to anything it touches. By doing so, it will puncture host eggs and even mortally wound a host neonate.

Beeswax from honeybees is the major part of their diet, however they are are known to consume insects, spiders, larvae, plant material and fruits. In the slender-billed species, scale insects (Coccidae) replace beeswax. Although honeyguides have a very thick skin, they are not immune to the Bee-sting toxin. Dead honeyguides have been found under bee’s nests with as many as 300 stings, especially around the eyes.

Yellow-rumped Honeyguide  (Indicator xanthonotus) - local resident
 


Indicatoridae in Fauna of India (Birds) vol iii 1895 - by W. T. Blanford

 

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