Family Honeyguides (Indicatoridae)

Least Concern

Pallid Honeyguide (Indicator meliphilus)


French: Indicateur pâle German: Tavetahoniganzeiger Spanish: Indicador pálido
Other common names: Eastern Least Honeyguide

Melignothes exilis meliphilus


, 1905,

Taveta, south-east Kenya


May be closely related to I. willcocksi; closely similar in size and voice, and responds to playback of that species’ song. Was for long confused with I. exilis, but differs vocally; has been linked by some authors with I. pumilio. Race angolensis often considered insufficiently differentiated to warrant recognition; S Malawi birds, described as appelator, inseparable from angolensis. Birds from border region of SC Kenya–N Tanzania have been treated as separate species, I. narokensis; latter, however, described on basis of immature specimen which is indistinguishable from type (also an immature) of present species, and thus synonymous with nominate meliphilus. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • I. m. meliphilus (Oberholser, 1905) – E Uganda and C Kenya S to CN & EC Tanzania.
  • I. m. angolensis Monard, 1934 – C Angola E to S DRCongo and S Malawi, and SE to EC Zimbabwe and C Mozambique.
  • Descriptive notes

    c. 13 cm; 11–18 g. Small, stubby-billed, plain-faced honeyguide. Both sexes of nominate race have grey-green crown, greenish-grey face with malar not contrasting, but... read more


    Song 10–25 triple-noted phrases, “a-wee-it” or “pa-wee-wit”, 9–... read more


    Diverse woodland, especially streamside trees, Brachystegia woods, and forest edges,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Arthropods, including winged ants (Monomorium), beetles, aculeate hymenopterans, hunting-spiders (Thomisidae, Oxyopidae), and... read more


    Probably Mar–Sept in N, also Nov–Feb (perhaps depending upon rainfall in one, two or three rainy seasons); possibly Apr and... read more


    Certainly local movements occur, distances unknown.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Uncommon to locally common in most of range; local and uncommon in Kenya, where apparently absent from most of the S coastal forests. Records in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Short, L.L., Horne, J.F.M. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Pallid Honeyguide (Indicator meliphilus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 3 April 2020).