In Mozambique, we’ve been studying the other side of honeyguide’s lives: honeyguides are not only brutal brood parasites of other birds, but also the cooperative partners of human honey-hunters. In collaboration the Niassa Carnivore Project, we show that Yao honey-hunters in the Niassa National Reserve use special calls to signal to honeyguides that they’re eager to follow, and that honeyguides use this information to choose partners who are likely to be good collaborators. Read more in articles about the study published in The New Yorker, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The New York Times, National Geographic, Discovery Channel’s Seeker and Scientific American, listen to radio programmes on the BBC World Service, NPR, Voice of America or The Naked Scientists, watch a YouTube video about the research, or read the original paper by Claire Spottiswoode, Keith Begg and Colleen Begg, published in Science and available in full text from here.
In a new paper published in Evolution, Dr Gabriel Jamie along with Silky Hamama, Collins Moya and Prof. Claire Spottiswoode from the African Cuckoos team and collaborators from University of Puerto Rico (Steven Van Belleghem), Princeton University (Dr Cassie Stoddard and Dr Ben Hogan) and University of Cambridge (Professor Rebecca Kilner) provide evidence of host-specific mimicry in the indigobirds and whydahs of Africa. Building on the pioneering work of Robert Payne and Jürgen Nicolai, they provide quantitative evidence that nestling Vidua finches mimic the patterns, colours and begging calls of their host’s nestling, and qualitative evidence of mimicry of host movements.