I was gray and frail, but I did my best to straddle the brink.
The honeyguide flew the longitudinal path. I must cross one precarious step after another.
Once across, I collapsed. I needed to rest just a moment. The little bird flew back to me. I thought I might be like Snow White, and held out a finger to the honeyguide. She dove at my head and swooped away just before embedding her beak in my skull.
Snow White never had this problem!
As I sat, I looked at the ground, and for a moment remembered the rest of my party was dead. I had only what was in the pack on my back.
This time when the bird returned, her wings slapped my hair.
“Oh, let me be,” I said. I alone should not have survived. I may as well rest for good.
The honeyguide came in at speed, and slapped her beak against my temple.
“Ow! You little vermin on wings!”
As I had nothing better to do, and was tired of being harangued by a bird, I followed her. In my weariness, I occasionally wandered along a path she did not approve of. When this happened, she fluttered in my face.
I was stopped at the base of a large tree. I knew not what type. Our botanist was at the bottom of the ravine and I could not ask.
The honeyguide darted at my face and up to the tree. It took her several tries to communicate that there was a bee hive hanging on a branch in the tree.
As I was the animal naturalist of the party, I knew that hive would have honey. I licked my cracked lips.
I found a rock and and threw it at the hive. I missed. The bird sat on a branch and chirped excitedly. I looked back at the hive.
“My dear birdie friend, I think I should stop throwing rocks at such a large hive.”
I studied my surroundings and heard the sound of gurgling water. I investigated. I found a pond and rejoiced. Fresh water and food! I would live. I now had a plan.
I left my pack at the water’s edge and found a stick long enough to reach the hive. On my return to the tree, I took a deep breath and swung with all of my might.
I heard a crunch on impact. As the hive fell and buzzing filled the air, I ran like… well, like bees were after me!
I dove into the water and stayed under as long as I could. I came up for air on the the opposite side of the pond from where I went in.
Bees were in the air across the pond, unaware of my presence, searching for their molester. They were also unaware of another presence. The honeyguide was happily devouring the larvae from the split hive.
“I thought you were my savior! Instead, I was a tool.”
Though angry, I thought, What a remarkable creature! She has saved us both.
H = honeyguide
The honeyguide is a real bird and the Greater Honeyguide does help humans find honey. They don’t do it as in my story (it is fiction, after all!). The way they help hunt is fascinating. The images below are from NPR.