If you have followed even half of the news stories over the last two weeks you will have seen nothing but division and separation, but there was one story tucked away within the chaos that shows unity and co-operation, not between two sets of people, but between humans and birds.
The honeyguide is a starling size species of bird found in Africa. The bird feeds on bee grubs and beeswax, however despite it being slightly more resilient to bee stings than other birds, it is not immune and its small size means that feeding from the hive is difficult work. The aptly named honeyguide has developed over hundreds of years a mutualistic relationship (meaning a relationship between two organisms that benefits them both) with local people in order to feed from beehives.
This incredibly rare relationship between wild birds and humans was recently studied by researchers. The honeyguides lead human hunters to beehives, for the local people honey is an important part of their diet, and finding beehives can be time-consuming. With the birds as guides the time is greatly reduced and the hunters can gather honey from the hives for their people. In order to access the hives the people smoke out the insects and use axes to break in and harvest the honey. Now this is something that the honeyguide could of course not do on its own, once the hive has been opened by people, the bird can access its food source. Both the birds and the people have their food and thus both have benefited from using each other. What makes this relationship even more interesting is that there is communication between the two species. Local people use a specific call which is recognised by the honeyguides. Once called the birds often come out of the trees and seemingly understand that the people want the birds to guide them to the beehives. The honeyguides are able to recognise a call and not only know the meaning but respond accordingly. This is something that is incredibly rare between people and wild animals, we can train domesticated species to respond to a call, but for this to happen for untrained wild birds is pretty unique and a wonderful example of the benefits that collaboration can have between two very different organisms.