National Geographic : 1954 Apr
shoulders; outer tail feathers of both sexes flash white. The young of the species cuts a somewhat fancier fig ure with a yellow chest and a slight wash of olive over the brown of the back (page 555). Indicator indicator is the only member of the honey-guide family showing any striking differences between the plum age of young and adult, or male and female. Let us accompany a Zulu tribesman to see how the honey-guide operates. We are in Zululand, near Africa's southeast coast, in the bush country favored by the bird. Scattered trees and scrub dot the open grassland in every direction, especially acacia, a common African tree which the Afrikaners so aptly call the "wait-a -bit tree" because of its thorns. We leave the village, for the honey-guide does not offer its services as pilot near habi tations. Why this should be I do not know, for the bird readily approaches a safari, to the exasperation of hunters, who fear that game will be warned off by the visitor's noisy chatter. It will even approach columns of march ing men, as records of the Boer War testify. As we wander through the bush, the Zulu "calls" the bird by knocking a pair of sticks together, whacking on trees, whistling, and uttering a gut tural "aaagh-ah." We do not have long to wait. Presently the Zulu says, "Ingede answers now," and in the distance we hear a chattering. Sounds Like a Rattled Matchbox The sound is a series of rolling, slightly rasping churr notes, giving the impression of "churra-churra" or perhaps of "cutta-cutta cutta." It reminds me of nothing so much as the rattle of a small box of matches shaken lengthwise. Suddenly the Zulu points. There, on a low 553 Gordon A. Ranger Honey-guides Go to Bees' Comb Like Mice to Cheese This bird, unlike its woodpecker relatives, lacks a sturdy beak and cannot rifle hives unaided, but loots nests broken open by animals or natives. The honey-guide, which seeks the comb rather than the honey, possesses the remarkable ability to digest wax. One captive specimen lived a month on wax and water. A tough, thick skin wards off stings. branch perhaps 150 feet away, sits our little scout. As we watch, it comes closer, taking a conspicuous downward dip, and lands on another perch within 15 or 20 feet of us. Now we can see the white throat: it is an adult female. She grows more and more ex cited, seemingly impatient that we do not come immediately. She churrs rapidly, fan ning tail feathers and arching and ruffling her wings. She darts off to the left, comes back to scold us, then flutters off again. This is no straight trail we are taking.