Indicator meliphilus (Pallid honeyguide, Eastern honeyguide) 

Oostelike heuningwyser [Afrikaans]; Bleke honingspeurder [Dutch]; Indicateur pāle [French]; Olivmantel-honiganzeiger [German]; Indicador-oriental [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Piciformes > Family: Indicatoridae

Indicator meliphilus (Pallid honeyguide, Eastern honeyguide)   

Pallid honeyguide outside of Arusha, northern Tanzania. [photo Ken Clifton ©]


Distribution and habitat

It has two separate populations in Africa; one in Kenya and Tanzania and the other from Angola to Zambia, Malawi and southern Africa. Within southern Africa it is uncommon in central Mozambique and marginally in eastern Zimbabwe It generally prefers remnant forest, forest edges and secondary regrowth, occasionally moving into miombo (Brachystegia) and evergreen forest.

Distribution of Pallid honeyguide in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common).

Movements and migrations

Resident and possibly locally nomadic.


Mainly eats insects taken from leaves, flowers and bark, supplemented with wax from honeycombs of both abandoned or active bees nests. It often forages like a woodpecker, creeping up a vertical tree trunk and gleaning prey from bark.


  • Brood parasite, laying its eggs in other bird nests, such as White-eared barbets (the only confirmed host in southern Africa).
  • Egg-laying season probably peaks in January.
  • Little else is known about its breeding habitats, as they have not been properly studied.


Status uncertain, although it is likely to be threatened by slash-and-burn agriculture and the gathering of firewood.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 


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