The brown-backed honeybird is also known as the Wahlberg's honeybird, Wahlberg's honeyguide and sharp-billed honeyguide. Most honeyguides are dull-colored, though some have bright yellow coloring in the plumage. All have light outer tail feathers, which are white in all the African species.
Habitat and Distribution
It is found in Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
They are among the few birds that feed regularly on wax?beeswax in most species, and presumably the waxy secretions of scale insects in the genus Prodotiscus and to a lesser extent in Melignomon and the smaller species of Indicator. They also feed on waxworms which are the larvae of the waxmoth Galleria mellonella, on bee colonies, and on flying and crawling insects, spiders, and occasional fruits. Many species join mixed-species feeding flocks. Honeyguides are named for a remarkable habit seen in one or two species: they guide humans to bee colonies. Once the hive is open and the honey is taken, the bird feeds on the remaining wax and larvae.
They are all brood parasites that lay one egg in a nest of another species, laying eggs in series of about five during five to seven days. Most favor hole-nesting species, often the related barbets and woodpeckers, but Prodotiscus parasitizes cup-nesters such as white-eyes and warblers. Honeyguide nestlings have been known to physically eject their host's chicks from the nest and they have hooks on their beaks with which they puncture the hosts' eggs or kill the nestlings.