In Africa, Birds and Humans Form a Unique Honey Hunting Party

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Teresa Binstock

Jul 26, 2016, 10:22:03 AM7/26/16

In Africa, Birds and Humans Form a Unique Honey Hunting Party


Their word is their bond, and they do what they say — even if the “word” on one side is a loud trill and grunt, and, on the other, the excited twitterings of a bird.

Researchers have long known that among certain traditional cultures of Africa, people forage for wild honey with the help of honeyguides — woodpecker-like birds that show tribesmen where the best beehives are hidden, high up in trees. In return for revealing the location of natural honey pots, the birds are rewarded with the leftover beeswax, which they eagerly devour.

Now scientists have determined that humans and their honeyguides communicate with each other through an extraordinary exchange of sounds and gestures, which are used only for honey hunting and serve to convey enthusiasm, trustworthiness and a commitment to the dangerous business of separating bees from their hives.

The findings cast fresh light on one of only a few known examples of cooperation between humans and free-living wild animals, a partnership that may well predate the love affair between people and their domesticated dogs by hundreds of thousands of years....

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For additional insights into bidirectional communication between humans and animals, see:

Make Prayers to the Raven: A Koyukon View of the Northern Forest
by Richard K. Nelson

The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World
David Abram


Nita Renfrew

Jul 26, 2016, 10:46:25 AM7/26/16
Thank you so much for posting this, Teresa.
It's so beautiful!

From: Teresa Binstock <>
Sent: Tuesday, July 26, 2016 9:22 AM
Subject: [coyotewisdom] In Africa, Birds and Humans Form a Unique Honey Hunting Party

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