Rainbow Bee Eaters at Bibra Lake
Spring in Western Australia brings back the spectacular bird, the Rainbow Bee Eater.
The rainbow bee eaters go north in the cold months, but return when it warms to our Perth region in Western Australia.
Rainbow Bee-eaters gather in small flocks before returning to summer breeding areas after over-wintering in the north (apart from the resident northern populations). Both males and females select a suitable nesting site in a sandy bank and dig a long tunnel (average length: 89.4 cm) leading to a nesting chamber, which is often lined with grasses. Both parents incubate the eggs and both feed the young, sometimes with the assistance of auxiliaries (helpers).
Rainbow Bee-eaters eat insects, mainly catching bees and wasps, as well as dragonflies, beetles, butterflies and moths. They catch flying insects on the wing and carry them back to a perch to beat them against it before swallowing them. Bees and wasps are rubbed against the perch to remove the stings and venom glands.
Watching them catch and eat the insects is quite entertaining, see how they will sit together on the same branch and watch their heads follow back and forth at the same time. When the spirit moves them, off one goes to catch the bee, contorting its body as need be, flying swiftly, sometimes with rapid twists and turns, before snapping the insect in its bill, and returning to the perch to eat it.
Add to all this fascinating behavior, they are just beautiful. So many different colors and when they fly with their wings out and the sun catches all the color, the bird seems to light up.
A striking, colourful bird, the Rainbow Bee-eater is medium sized, with a long slim curved bill and a long tail with distinctive tail-streamers. It has a golden crown and a red eye set in a wide black stripe from the base of the bill to the ears, which is edged with a thin blue line. The throat is orange-yellow, with a broad black band separating it from a green breast. The upperparts are green, with the flight feathers coppery and black tipped. The underwings are bright orange, with a black edge. The lower abdomen is blue. The tail is black, including the long tail streamers, with a blue tinge. Females have shorter, thicker tail streamers than males, but are otherwise similar.
When I am even close to a rainbow bee eater, you can hear the sound of my camera taking hundreds of photos, I hope you enjoy a small sample here: