Thick-billed Honeyguides

The Thick-billed Honeyguide (Indicator conirostris) is a bird of the honeyguide family Indicatoridae. It has been reported interbreeding with the related Lesser Honeyguide (I. minor) and the two are sometimes treated as a single species.


It is 14-15 centimetres long and has a heavy black bill. The upperparts are yellow-green with dark streaking while the head and underparts are dark greyish, sometimes with faint streaking.

The outer tail-feathers are mostly white and there may be a pale spot on the lores. Juvenile birds are similar to adults but are darker and greener.

Similiar Species: The Lesser Honeyguide is smaller with a less heavy bill. It has a paler head and underparts, less-streaked upperparts and a more conspicuous patch on the lores.

Calls / Vocalizations

The calls of the Thick-billed Honeyguide include a repeated “frip” which is similar to the call of the Lesser Honeyguide but deeper.

Distribution / Range

It occurs in parts of West, Central and East Africa. The nominate subspecies is found from southern Nigeria south to north-west Angola and east to Uganda and western Kenya.

The form cassini occurs in eastern Sierra Leone, Liberia and southern parts of Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

The species inhabits the interior of dense forest. Where its habitat becomes fragmented it may be replaced by the Lesser Honeyguide which favors more open habitats.

Breeding / Nesting

Like other honeyguides, it is a brood parasite laying its eggsin the nests of other birds. The Grey-throated Barbet (Gymnobucco bonapartei) is known to be a host species and other Gymnobucco barbets are probably parasitized as well.


  1. Lowther, Peter E. (2007) Host list of avian brood parasites – 4 – Piciformes; Indicatoridae.
  • Sinclair, Ian and Ryan, Peter (2003) Birds of Africa south of the Sahara, Struik, Cape Town.Zimmerman, Dale A.; Turner, Donald A. and Pearson, David J. (1999) Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania, Christopher Helm, London.
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