Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Kedarnath, Uttarakhand

Soham Dixit

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

The population of Honeyguides in the Himalayas has not been quantified but is thought to be declining. It is considered rare throughout its range and they are now considered Near Threatened by the IUCN.

The Yellow-rumped Honeyguide (Indicator xanthonotus) is a sparrow-sized bird found in the Himalayas of India, Pakistan, Bhutan and Nepal and is a resident breeder. It is rare and is easily overlooked due to its inconspicuous behaviour and colouration. This particular individual is a female, and was found near a village at 2100m in the Kedarnath Wildlife division, Uttarakhand. She was perched on a leafless tree and hawking insects. Five individuals, three males and two females were seen at 1900m on the same day in another valley at a waterfall with large bee hives a short distance away.

The males are known to defend giant honey bee (Apis dorsata) hives and chase away juveniles and females during the non-breeding season. Females have been seen at 1500m in the same area far away from any rock bee hives during the non-breeding season. There is very little known about this species’ natural history due to their restricted and often inaccessible distribution. They are thought to be brood parasites, but the hosts are unknown. Due to their specific niche, over exploitation of bee hives and deforestation of broad leaved and conifer forests in the Himalayas, their population is thought to be declining. The population size of this species has not been quantified; it is considered very rare to uncommon throughout its range. They are now considered Near Threatened by the IUCN.

This photo was taken in the Kedarnath Wildlife Division, Uttarakhand in January 2015 by Soham Dixit, Sahas Barve, Viral Joshi, Harish Maithani.

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