Beautiful Bee-Eater – Part – II

Posted in Wildlife A-Z | March 23, 2010 | Comment Now

The birds have a wonderful time in Africa. Male bee-eaters have their own flocks. Grass fires attract bee-eaters in large numbers as there are plenty of insects. Spanish male birds mate with Italian female birds. It also common to see birds from Kazakhstan pair up with those from Hungary. It is back to Europe during springtime. Some of these pairs last for a lifetime. Their home usually comprises sandstone cliffs and sandy riverbanks. They hesitate to begin a family in a soiled nest. They excavate their own burrows. They have the ability to peck continuously for 20 days. At the end of the job, they have moved nearly 15 to 25 pounds of soil. This is more than 80 times their body weight. In the process, their beaks get chipped to one sixteenth of an inch.

Mating season is a time for alliances. The Meropidae family comprises 25 species of bee-eaters. They are known for their cooperation. The colonies are filled with nest helpers. The birds that helped in the feeding of chicks are revered. The helpers benefit as well. Parents equipped with helpers are more likely to provide food for their chicks. Recruiting helpers is the most difficult part. I have observed that bee-eaters use strong-arm tactics. After the burrow has been dug, the male bird engages in courtship feeding. They try to impress their partners by fetching a bee or butterfly. I have frequently watched parents intrude into their son’s business. They often beg for courtship treat. If this does not work, a parent bee-eater might block the entrance to the son’s burrow. This prevents the female bee-eater from laying her eggs. Some bee-eaters succumb to the tactics by abandoning their efforts at mating and instead help at their parents nest.

Bee-eaters belonging to Europe are mild and not ruthless. These birds are more likely to find helpers as some of the nests can get destroyed due to natural causes. Theft and tricks are common in the life of a bee-eater. The birds are naughty, which is evident in their behaviors. While some females may leave their burrow, other females may creep in to lay their eggs. If a male leaves the nest unguarded, there are chances of other males copulating with the female. Some birds steal food from others through harassment.

The life of the bee-eater is short but spectacular. On an average, the bee-eater survives for five to six years. The burden of migration and escaping falcons is often too large to carry. Pesticides reduce the number of insects available for the bee-eaters. The breeding sites, too, in decline with the formation of canals. It is a grave injustice to call these birds common across the range.

Part – I

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