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Bird Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus)

auscraft

Henry Arthur Readford
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Common Name: Rainbow Bee-eater

Scientific Name: Merops ornatus

Order: Coraciiformes

Family: Meropidae

Distribution: Throughout Australia with exception arid areas.

Habitat: Most habitation types, open country, sand dunes and vegetation types.

Field Notes: The Rainbow Bee-eater is mostly turquoise green with a black line through its eye like a bandit, and another under its yellow throat. With its long black beak it really does catch bees, beating them on a branch until they can no longer sting before tossing them down. It catches most of its insect food while flying from trees or low shrubs. Size: 22-25 cm.


Photo by Auscraft 2011, Jimmy's Scrub, Kinbombi, QLD

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auscraft

Henry Arthur Readford
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Nest

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Found this hole and many more on open field with the bee eaters being very active.

Breeding season is before and after the rainy season in the north, and from November to January in the south. Rainbow bee-eaters are believed to mate for life. The male will bring the female insects while she digs the burrow that will be their nest. The bee-eater digs its burrow by balancing on its wings and feet, and digs with its bill, then pushing loose soil backwards with its feet while balancing on its bill. The female bee-eater can dig about three inches down every day. The nest tunnel is very narrow, And almost a metre in length,and the birds' bodies press so tightly against the tunnel walls that when the birds enter and exit their movement acts like a piston, pumping in fresh air and pushing out stale air. Rainbow bee-eaters have also been known to share their nest tunnels with other bee-eaters and sometimes even other species of birds. The female lays between 3 and 7 glossy white eggs, which are incubated for about 24 days until hatching. The young bee-eaters fledge after about 30 days and are fed by both parents, as well as any older bee-eaters that may not have paired off or have lost their mate. Cane Toads are known to prey on nestlings.

http://www.walkaboutpark.com.au/index.php?id=252
Field Guide to Australian Birds: Michael Morcombe
 
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XT John

Les Stroud
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I snapped this one just as he saw a meal flying past!

rainbow-bee-eaters-web.jpg
 
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