The BBC Radio 4 series “Natural Histories” is featuring honeyguides on 18 October (11h00 BST; repeat on 24 October at 21h00). On the programme, Claire Spottiswoode talks about our research on the Jekyll-and-Hyde lives of these intriguing birds – their brutal life as brood parasites of other birds (which we study in Zambia), and their cooperative life as collaborators of human honey-hunters (which we study in Mozambique), joined by Zambian nest-finder and legendary bird man Lazaro Hamuskili, Mozambican honey-hunter Orlando Yassene, and Dr Brian Wood of Yale University. The programme is presented by Brett Westwood and produced by Tim Dee. For more information, please see the programme webpage.
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.