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honeyguide

honeyguide, small plainly colored Old World bird of the family Indicatoridae, known for its habit of leading man and some lower animals (notably the honey badger) to the nests of wild bees. Honeyguides are native to Africa, the Himalayas, and the East Indies. The largest and best-known species is the 8-in. long (20-cm) black-throated African honeyguide, Indicator indicator. It leads tribespeople to bees' nests, waits for them to open the hive, and then feeds on bits of honeycomb, bees, and larvae; it has special bacteria in its stomach to aid in the digestion of beeswax. Honeyguides lay their eggs in the nests of hole-nesting birds and the young, on hatching, kill their nest mates with special needle-sharp bill hooks; they are then able to consume all the food brought by their foster parents. Honeyguides are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Piciformes, family Indicatoridae.

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Indicatoridae

Indicatoridae (honeyguides; class Aves, order Piciformes) A family of grey, olive, brown, and white birds which have short, stout bills, and short legs with zygodactylous toes. Their skin is thick and so protects them against insect stings. They are arboreal, and found in forest and woodland. They feed on beeswax and insects, and are nest parasites. Their common name refers to their habit of guiding animals to bee nests, where they feed on the remains left by the animals that have plundered them. The largest genus is Indicator, with 10 species. There are four genera, with 14 species, found in Africa and Asia.

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honeyguides

honeyguides See INDICATORIDAE; PICIFORMES.

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