"And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise."
The White-fronted bee-eater is an East African bird that lives in clans of up to fourteen members.
White-fronted bee-eaters have several problems to deal with. Since they nest on the cliffs overlooking riverbanks, youngsters need a great deal of attention until they learn to fly. Once they are on their own, the young birds are often put to work by their parents as helpers. A father may even drive away his sons' mates in order to keep them as helpers.
Helpers bring food for their mother, brothers and sisters. They also clean the nest area and watch for danger. However, the most important job is guarding the nest at egg-laying time. This is necessary because a female who doesn't have her own nest will sneak into another bee-eater's nest and lay her eggs there. If the eggs are laid before the owner of the nest starts laying her eggs, she will simply toss out the foreign egg. If there are eggs already in the nest, she will also care for the foreign eggs. The important job of guarding the nest is usually given to a daughter. However, scientists have observed that sometimes it is the daughter, while on guard duty with the mother absent, who sneaks into the nest and adds a few eggs of her own!
In His goodness, the Creator has given bee-eaters a way of life in which helping each other is part of their nature. This kindness toward each other improves the quality of life. It can serve as an example to us that the world is not designed to favor the survival of the most selfish or aggressive.
Notes: Bruce Fellman. 1992. "Looking Out for Number One." National Wildlife, Dec.-Jan., pp. 46-49.
Photo used by permission of Luc Viatour. Licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2.
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