African Honeyguides

Research on a remarkable
human-animal relationship


Scientific papers on honeyguide-human mutualism

Selected press coverage: New York Times | The Atlantic | The New Yorker | National Geographic | The Guardian

Listen to a BBC Radio 4 programme on honeyguides featuring this research as well as work by our collaborator Dr Brian Wood

Watch a YouTube video about this research

Scientific papers on honeyguide brood parasitism

Popular articles

  • Spottiswoode, C.N. 2021 Human-bird cooperation in Niassa. Chinguirira 2: 202-215.

  • van der Wal, J.E.M. & Spottiswoode C.N. 2020 Wanted: Greater Honeyguide sightings. African Birdlife 9(5):16.

  • Spottiswoode, C.N. 2017 One good turn: exploring human-honeyguide mutualism. African Birdlife 2017(2): 22-28.


Honey-hunting Research Network workshop

The Honey-hunting Research Network (coordinated by Jessica van der Wal) met in Cape Town for a very enjoyable week of analysing and comparing interview data from honey-hunting cultures across Africa, painting a picture of the human cultural variation relevant to honeyguides, and its uncertain future on a rapidly changing continent. Joining in person were Wiro-Bless Kamboe, Rochelle Mphetlhe, George M’manga, Sanele Nhlabatsi, Daniella Mhangwana, Celiwe Ngcamphalala, Claire Spottiswoode and Jessica van der Wal. Thank you to the Cultural Evolution Society Transformation Fund for funding our get-together!

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New paper on human-honeyguide cooperation and communication

A new study from the Honeyguide Research Project shows that Greater Honeyguides learn the distinct calls that honey-hunters in different parts of Africa use to communicate with them, facilitating cooperation between species. Human honey-hunters signal to honeyguides using specialised calls that vary culturally across Africa. The new study shows using field experiments in Mozambique and Tanzania that honeyguides prefer the specialised calls of the local human culture they interact with, compared to those of a foreign culture. This implies that honeyguides can adjust to human cultural diversity, increasing the benefits of cooperation for both people and birds.

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