It is known for its small size, unique sound, slender body, and shiny plumage, as well as being one of the most beautiful birds. It is found in a variety of wooded areas in sub-Saharan Africa, Western Arabia, and East Asia. While not in danger of extinction, it is experiencing a decline in its natural habitat, as well as in the populations of its main prey, bees.
- True to its name, 80% of its diet is made up of bees.
- Although not known to migrate, it travels seasonally due to rains.
- The green bee-eater is a natural killer of bees.
- It possesses an aware “theory of mind” of predator avoidance behavior that is generally found only in humans and other primates.
Where To Find
Green bee-eaters find various habitat types from Mauritania to central China, including the Nile River and the Himalayas. Other countries include Greece, Senegal, Gambia, Egypt, Iran, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam. Its habitat is forests, grasslands, and thin scrub.
The best places to find green bee-eaters are arid areas, plains, savannas, scrublands, grasslands, open forests, fields, and farmland in parts of Africa and Asia. They can also be seen perched on television aerials in urban and suburban neighborhoods.
They are also visitors to parts of Pakistan, flying there during the summer, creating riparian habitats in southern India or high up in the Himalayas. Social birds perch in numbers from 30 to 300 and generally bathe in the dust in groups of 20. Remember, they perch high in trees and have a unique sound.
Green Bee-Eater Nests
Green bee-eaters normally nest in May or June. Their nests are found in the holes in the sand or mud banks that both sexes create when they dig tunnels or burrows, which are 2-3 feet deep and can be up to 5 feet (1-2m) long. Tunnels in Africa are dug on flat ground or gentle slopes, while in Asia they are dug on low shores. Females lay 3 to 8 eggs on the bare ground at the end of the tunnel, in a cavity of about 15 cm (5.9 in).
There are 26 subspecies of green bee-eater. Its scientific name is Merops Orientalis. The bee-eater family Meropidae has three genera, one of which is the large genus Merops.
Appearance & Behavior
The small green bee-eater measures approximately 16-19 cm, including 2 inches of long central tail feathers. It has a wingspan of 29-49cm (11.4-19.3in) and a weight of 15-25g.
Brilliant emerald green is its main color, but different species have partial red, yellow, blue, or purple coloring depending on the region. There are also variations like a rusty crown and bright blue throat, as well as leucistic individuals. A similar species based on a grouping by plumage characteristics is Merops leschenaulti, with the subspecies Merops Orientalis ferrugeiceps being the most similar.
Generally, however, there is blue on the chin and throat, with reddish-gold on the crown and back. Its flight feathers are reddish and green. It has a long and slightly curved black beak that ends in a sharp tip, a narrow black stripe called “oblivion” in the throat, a black mask on the crimson eyes, and two long, narrow central black stripes. His legs are dark gray in color and he has weak feet with three toes.
The colors of youth are muted in comparison. It does not have the long tail feathers unique to adults. The female is similar in color and physical size to the male, but with a duller throat, a narrower half-collar, and shorter streamers.
The green bee-eater bathes in the sand more than other bee-eater species and dives into the water during the flight. Usually, it calls in flight, its sound is a tree-tree-tree-tree-tree-tree-tree-tree-tree-tree-tree-nasal soft, pleasant, long, and repetitive. It is graceful and makes a zigzagging motion when it returns to its perch to consume its prey. Most active during the day, he starts hunting after 7 am or 8 am and again around 4 pm.
Predators and Threats
The green bee-eater has a unique predator avoidance behavior in that it does not enter the nest while a predator is watching. This kind of awareness of a predator’s mental state exhibits a “theory of mind” normally shared only by primates. Although the IUCN lists the green bee-eater as “Least Concern”, it is still vulnerable to the destruction of its native habitat and the decline of its main prey, bees.
What do green bee-eaters eat?
Green bee-eaters and their eggs are preyed upon by larger birds, reptiles, and smaller mammals. Sometimes they get stomach infections from the endoparasitic nematode (Torquatoides balanocephala). In India, they are known to have a protozoan parasite in their blood (Haemoproteus manually).
Green Bee-Eater Reproduction
Green bee-eaters have a breeding season from March to June or July to August.
Although both sexes participate in incubation, the female mainly does so. They are monogamous and companions for life. In Africa and Asia, they nest solitary with helpers, including juveniles and young adults. They create small colonies in India, with the largest in Myanmar and Pakistan ranging from 10 to 30 breeding pairs.
Both parents feed the young, known as chicks, while they remain in the nest for 22 to 31 days. Young people don’t need to be taught how to handle stinging insects, as birds are born with the ability to kill bees. The bird’s lifespan is 12-18 years in the wild.
Green bee-eaters are common in their habitat range and do not migrate. Although their glossy plumage and small size attract many larger predators, they exhibit predator avoidance behavior when they see predators near their nests. With 26 species, habitats in several countries and listed as “Least Concern” by the IUCN, their exact numbers have not been assessed. However, populations of African green bee-eater, Asian green bee-eater, and Arabian green bee-eater are increasing.