The Bee-eater

24 Jun

About this time of year, sometimes we are lucky enough to hear and see the   bee-eater bird and to watch them flying in and out of their “nests” which they make in sandy hillsides, or in our case, the side of the dry river bed near the cortijo.

 

They truly are beautiful birds and you will know one when you see one by their brown and yellow upper parts, but more by their wings which are bright greeny blue.   They can reach a length of 10–11 inches, including the two elongated central tail feathers.

 

It is strongly migratory bird, spending the winter in tropical Africa, India and Sri Lanka so they’re not here for very long and you really know summer has arrived when you first see one around May time.

 

They breed in open country in warmer climates. Just as the name suggests, bee-eaters eat bees, wasps and hornets which are caught in the air by missions from an open perch.

 

Before eating their catch, rather brilliantly the bee-eater removes the sting by repeatedly hitting the insect on a hard surface. Astonishingly, they can eat up to 250 bees daily.

 

Bee-eaters are gregarious creatures and nest together in sandy banks, usually in May & June. They make a relatively long tunnel in which they lay their eggs, around the beginning of June. Both the male and the female take care of the eggs, (like the hoopoe which we also see often here), which are brooded for about 3 weeks – you can see them swooping in and out of the holes along the dry river bed from our swimming pool and you can watch them for hours.

 

Then as swiftly as they arrive they seem to disappear at the end of summer but it is always exciting to see the first one when they return.

 

 

 

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One Response to “The Bee-eater”

  1. KIM June 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    Wow! x

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