Friday, July 28

Yellow-rumped honeyguide

   ›      ›   Yellow-rumped honeyguide - Indicator xanthonotus

The yellow-rumped honeyguide (Indicator xanthonotus) belongs to the family of honeyguides, Indicatoridae.

The yellow-rumped honeyguide species are distributed in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and China. These honeyguide species are brood parasites, laying eggs in the nest of other birds and rely on the host to raise their young. These honeyguides are polytypic species.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Yellow-rumped Honeyguide Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Yellow-rumped honeyguide - Overview

  • Scientific name: Indicator xanthonotus
  • Species author: Blyth, 1842
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Indicator xanthonotus Blyth, 1842
  • Family: Indicatoridae › Piciformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Yellow-rumped honeyguide, Chinese: 黄腰响蜜鴷, French: Indicateur à dos jaune, German: Gelbbürzel-Honiganzeiger, Spanish: Indicador indio, Russian: Индийский медоуказчик, Japanese: インドミツオシエ
  • Other names: Indian Honeyguide, Orange-rumped Honeyguide
  • Distribution: India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, China
  • Diet and feeding habits: Beeswax, bees, insects
  • IUCN status listing: Near Threatened (NT)

Appearance, physical description and identification

The yellow-rumped honeyguide (Indicator xanthonotus) is a small headed, sparrow-sized bird, measuring 15 to 17 cm in length and weighing 25 to 35 grams. It is the only honeyguide in its range.

The yellow-rumped honeyguide has dull olive-gray plumage. The male has bright yellowish orange forehead, crown, cheeks and rump. The orange coloration on the rump grades into sulfur yellow towards the back. The chin and throat are yellowish.

The underparts are pale gray with dark streaking. There is a white stripe on the tertials. The female is duller and is less yellowish on the head and its rump coloration is yellowish.

The bill of the yellow-rumped honeyguide is short, strong and finch-like. The bill is colored yellowish brown and is darker towards the tip. The irises are brown. The feet are grayish green. Two of the toes point backwards.

The call of these honeyguides is probably a low “weet” sound. They apparently do not sing.
Indian birds - Picture of Yellow-rumped honeyguide - Indicator xanthonotus
1.Birds of India - Image of Yellow-rumped honeyguide - Indicator xanthonotus by (text) T C Jerdon; (art) R.E.B.

Birds of India - Photo of Yellow-rumped honeyguide - Indicator xanthonotus
2.Indian birds - Picture of Yellow-rumped honeyguide - Indicator xanthonotus by John Gould & Henry Constantine Richter

Indian birds -
 Image of Yellow-rumped honeyguide - Indicator xanthonotus
3.Birds of India - Photo of Yellow-rumped honeyguide - Indicator xanthonotus by Francesco Veronesi

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The yellow-rumped honeyguide species are distributed in montane forests along Himalayas in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, north Myanmar and China (southeast Tibet).

In India, these yellow-rumped honeyguide species are distributed in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.

The yellow-rumped honeyguide nominate subspecies I. x. xanthonotus is distributed in Nepal, Bhutan, India (West Bengal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland) north Myanmar and China (southeast Tibet).

The yellow-rumped honeyguide subspecies I. x. radcliffii is distributed in northeast Pakistan (may be extinct) and northwest India (Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand).

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of these yellow-rumped honeyguide species in Nepal are, Makalu Barun National Park, Annapurna Conservation Area, Mai Valley forests and Langtang National Park.

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of these honeyguide species in India is the Valley of Flowers National Park located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand state.

Ecosystem and habitat

These yellow-rumped honeyguide species have medium forest dependence. These species normally occur in altitudes from 600 to 3500 meters.

The natural ecosystems of these honeyguide species include areas having colonies of giant honeybee like rocky outcrops, cliffs and mountain peaks, broad-leaved forests, coniferous forests, tropical and subtropical moist forests, montane forests and wetlands and deciduous forests.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of the yellow-rumped honeyguide consists mainly of beeswax. Honeybee eggs, larvae and pupae, waxworms (caterpillar larvae of wax moths), beeswax, flying insects, bees and swarming termites are their primary food.

Though there are records of honeyguides leading humans to the nests of wild bees, the yellow-rumped honeyguide has not been observed to lead humans or animals to bee hives.

Reproduction and breeding habits

These yellow-rumped honeyguide species are brood parasites. They lay eggs in the nest of other species of birds and rely on the host to raise their young. The host species is unknown. Their breeding season is likely to coincide with that of the local host species.

The breeding season of these yellow-rumped honeyguide species is from April to June in most of their range. The males are territorial, defending the area around giant honey bee (Apis dorsata) nests.

The male yellow-rumped honeyguide is polygamous and allows only the females with whom it had mated and their young into its territory. The male courtship display involves holding the head and bill high, fluffing the feathers and flickering wings and rhythmically moving from side to side.

The nestling of yellow-rumped honeyguides hatches earlier than the host's chicks. It evict the hosts's chicks from the nests. The chick has a membranous hook on the bill which it uses to puncture the host's eggs and to kill the host's young outright or by repeated wounds.

Migration and movement patterns

The yellow-rumped honeyguide species are non-migratory resident birds. Altitudinal migration is observed in the birds residing in higher altitudes. These honeyguides move to lower levels and plains during winter.

Post breeding, the juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the yellow-rumped honeyguide (Indicator xanthonotus) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of these species is reported to be decreasing.

Throughout its range this species is reported to be very rare to uncommon. The generation length is 5.8 years. Its distribution size is about 1,030,000 sq.km.

Habitat degradation, deforestation, over-exploitation of the giant bee nests for honey by humans and other activities affecting honeybee populations are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these honeyguide species.

IUCN and CITES status

The yellow-rumped honeyguide (Indicator xanthonotus) is approaching the thresholds for being Vulnerable, under the range size criterion, under the population trend criterion and under the population size criterion.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the species and has listed it as "Near Threatened". The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for yellow-rumped honeyguide (Indicator xanthonotus).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Indicator xanthonotus
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order: Piciformes
Family:Indicatoridae
Subfamily:-
Genus:Indicator
Species:I. xanthonotus
Binomial name:Indicator xanthonotus
IUCN status listing:
Near Threatened
The yellow-rumped honeyguide (Indicator xanthonotus) is closely related to Malaysian honeyguide (Indicator archipelagicus) and greater honeyguide (Indicator indicator).

The two recognized subspecies of yellow-rumped honeyguide are: Indicator xanthonotus radcliffii A. O. Hume, 1870 and Indicator xanthonotus xanthonotus Blyth, 1842.
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1.Yellow-rumped honeyguide image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:IndicatorXanthonotusJerdon.jpg (cropped)
Image author: (text) T C Jerdon; (art) R.E.B. | License: public domain
2.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BirdsAsiaJohnGoVIGoul_0200.jpg (cropped)
Image author: John Gould & Henry Constantine Richter | License: public domain
3.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/francesco_veronesi/22681342001/ (cropped)
Image author: Francesco Veronesi | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 as on 7/28/17
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