INDICATOR

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INDICATOR (cuculus indicator, Linn.). This bird, which is a native of Africa, in its external appearance does not differ much from the common sparrow, except that it is somewhat larger. It is peculiar for its faculty of discovering and indicating to man the nests of wild bees. Being itself extremely fond both of honey and the larva?, knowing that when a nest is plundered, some will fall to its share, it is always willing to act as a guide in the search for them. The morning and evening are its usual times of taking food, at least it then appears most solicitous to engage the aid of man in satisfying its appetite. A grating cry of chen\ cherr, may then be heard, which generally brings somebody to the spot where it is perched, when the bird, incessantly repeating its cry, flies slowly towards the quarter where the swarm of bees is to be found. When the nest is at some distance, the bird makes long flights, waiting for its coadjutor between them, and calling him to advance ; but in proportion as it approaches, its flights are snorter and its cry more earnest. When it arrives at the nest, it hovers over the spot for the space of a few seconds, after which it retires to some adjoining bush, and patiently awaits its reward in silence. Its followers, having plundered the nest, leave it a considerable portion of that part of the comb containing the young bees, this being its most favorite morsel. This account, which is condensed from Sparmann, was severely animadverted upon by Bruce and other writers; but Barrow, who visited the southern extremity of Africa at a subsequent period, fully confirms its truth. He says, that every one there is too well acquainted with this bird to entertain any doubts of the fidelity of Sparmann's narrative. It is also confirmed by Le Vaillant, who states that, on account of the important services which it renders to the Hottentots, they were very unwilling that he should destroy one of them.