Description and Features
Bee-eater - a small bright bird of the family of bee-eater. This family of heavenly inhabitants is recognized as the most beautiful in Europe. And not without reason. Color bee-eater is difficult not to admire. Feathers are painted red, green, yellow, blue and their shades.
Each species has its own characteristics of the distribution of color in the plumage. On this basis, as well as on the habitat, more than 20 species of birds are distinguished. Like most birds, males are more beautiful and brighter than females. With age, the color of the feathers becomes brighter. Bee-eater fits in the palm of your hand. The length of her body is about 26 cm. The most beautiful bird in Europe weighs from 20 to 50 grams.
At the same time, the baby needs 40 grams of food per day! A distinctive feature of bee-eater is the beak. It is long compared with the body, slightly curved. Beak is the main tool for hunting in most birds. That is why among lovers to feast on insects, such an elegant tool of labor was formed during evolution.
Bee-eater got its name for the characteristic cry: "bee-eater". Bright birds are often considered symbols of good luck. Bee-eater is no exception. In many countries where it is not considered to be apiary fighters, a meeting with a bright bird brings good luck, according to popular beliefs.
Such a country in Europe is France. And in Egypt and on the island of Crete, not only a meeting with bee-eaterbut also cooking it for food. People who practice this argue that if you also eat a lucky sign, then happiness will increase to a greater extent.
The bee-eater family has dozens of species. Birds differentiate mainly in plumage and habitat.
1. White-chinned bee-eater. The plumage is predominantly green, a chest of golden tones. The chin is separated by a black stripe. Red eyes are underlined with a black “mask”. The crown is also black. Prefers to spend the summer in semi-deserts near the Sahara desert, and winter in the rainforests. The length of the bird reaches 20 cm, and the weight does not exceed 30 grams.
2. Golden bee-eater. This species is the brightest in the family. The back is red, the chest is blue, on the wings there are blotches of yellow, red, blue and green. The chin is yellow, a red stripe on the red eyes.
Golden bee-eater is the most common species in the family. In winter, it can be found in India. In summer, its habitat expands significantly. Many researchers observed a golden bee-eater in the southern parts of temperate latitudes.
3. Bemova bee-eater. The species is named after a researcher originally from Germany, Richard Böhm, who at the end of the 19th century explored the Zanzibar region. Otherwise, this bird is called green bee-eater. The beetle is 17 cm long and weighs 20 grams. Green color prevails in its plumage.
The chest of the bumblebee is painted with a warmer shade, dark green and emerald feathers are located on the back. Riding hood and throat. A black strip is characteristic of the species. Bemova bee-eater lives in Africa. It settles in the equatorial forests, where there is a lot of light. The selection criterion for her is the presence of a mopane tree.
4. Black-headed bee-eater. This species can be called large in comparison with relatives. Body length - 28 cm, weight - 54g. Bee-eater got its name for color. The head of the bird is completely painted black, which makes the birds seem formidable.
The back, wings and tail are painted in shades of green. Chest and abdomen of yellow and orange. Black-headed bee-eater lives in Africa, in the territory of Nigeria, Gabon, Angola, Congo and other adjacent states.
5. White-faced Bee-eater. In the plumage of this species there are unusually many colors. The name is due to the white plumage on the head above and below the characteristic black strip on the eyes. The chin is scarlet, the chest and abdomen are yellow. Closer to the tail, the plumage becomes indigo.
The back and wings are green in hues, like most members of the family. White-headed bee-eater has a rounded shape of wings. The body length is 23 cm, and the mass does not exceed 40 g. A white-faced bee-eater inhabits the African savannah.
6. Red-necked Bee-eater. This species seemed to combine a golden and white-faced bee-eater. A distinctive feature is the red chin. The forehead is green. The occiput is yellow-orange-green, the wings, tail and back are green, the lower part of the tail is saturated blue. It lives in Africa in areas from Sinegal to the Central African Republic and from Ethiopia to Uganda.
7. Black bee-eater. The description of the plumage of this bird is simple in comparison with its relatives. The throat is red, with bright blue feathers on the forehead and tail. Basically, the bird is black.
8. Swallow-tailed Bee-eater. From the name you can understand what is the main feature of this species. The color of the back, wings and hats is green. The tail is blue, black blotches at the end. The throat is yellow. The length of the body along with the tail is 20 cm. The habitat is predominantly south of the Sahara, in the African savannahs.
9. Brown-headed bee-eater. The appearance of the bird is strict and solemn at the same time. The wings and back are dark green, approaching black. The chest is light green, closer to the tail appear blue blotches. The cap is burgundy, the throat is bright yellow, separated from the chest by a thin stripe of wine color. Body length - 20 cm, weight - about 30 g.
10. Pink bee-eater. The bird got its name for the chin and breast of a dark pink color. All other plumage of a bee-eater is dark gray. Under the characteristic black stripe on the eyes is white, creating contrast. It lives in the same area as the black-headed bee-eater.
11. Blue-headed Bee-eater. Not only the head, but most of the plumage of the bird is blue. The wings are red-brown; several bright red feathers are located under the beak. A black stripe on the eyes and on the neck. Blue-headed bee-eater is a fairly small representative of the family. Its length is only 19 cm, and the weight does not exceed 30 g.
12. Nubian bee-eater. An incredibly bright and contrasting family member is also called purple bee-eater or red bee-eater. The forehead and chin are blue, all other plumage is pink, with a splash of red, green, blue and brown. Body length is 40cm. In summer it lives in the north and south of Africa, and in winter - in the equator area. It prefers savannas and river valleys, and does not ignore mangroves.
13. Rainbow bee. A feature of the bird is not only the abundance of flowers in the plumage, but also smooth transitions between shades. On the back, yellow, green, blue colors prevail, on the wings green is replaced by red. All shades are present on the head. Rainbow bees live in Australia and on the island of Tasmania. He is experiencing winter in New Guinea.
In addition to the described species, there are dwarf, Somali, olive, blue-breasted and Malay bee-eater. All of them differ from each other by plumage and habitat. It is hardly possible to say which bee-eater is the most beautiful, because each species has its own unique features, unique and amazing. Bee-eater in the photo in the wild look incredible. It is a pleasure to consider their plumage.
Lifestyle & Habitat
Homeland of birds - tropics and semi-deserts. That is why bee-eater are so colorful. The largest habitat is Africa, but some representatives are also found in subtropical and temperate European latitudes. In Russia, the bird habitat does not extend north of the Tambov and Ryazan regions. Bee-eater can be found on the island of Madagascar and New Guinea, in Australia and Asia.
Bee-eater fly fast. This helps them hunt for food right in the air. Insects are a favorite food of bright birds. Larvae, caterpillars, dragonfly butterflies - all of them are wary of bee-eater. The large weight or the impressive size of the insect does not bother small birds at all.
Most of all, bee-eater like wasps and bees, to which they remove the sting before eating. Due to the addiction to this type of insect, bee-eater can threaten the destruction of whole apiaries! During the Soviet Union, there was a decree on the extermination of bee-eater in order to preserve beekeeping farms. And in our time, they try not to let birds in apiaries. However, it was found that the bee-eater does not exterminate a percent of dying bees per year.
First, a thunderstorm of insects examines prey from a high place. Such can be a pillar or hedge, a house roof or a tree branch from which a good view opens. In flight, the bird grabs prey, strikes the ground, kills it, tears off its wings, sting and other organs that interfere with consumption.
In some subjects, bee-eater are listed in the Red Book. It would seem that birds with such bright plumage settle on trees. But they prefer burrows in open spaces. The habitat can serve as cliffs, abandoned quarries, deserted or quiet villages. The main thing is that there should be an opportunity to equip the hole. This makes the bee-eater similar to shore-swallows.
Bee-eater do not like loneliness, therefore they live in packs. During the breeding season, huge flocks, which can number up to a thousand individuals, are divided into pairs. However, this does not weaken their unity. In case of trouble, the birds help each other.
An important part of the bird's lifestyle is water treatments. Due to the fact that the birds live in warm latitudes, parasites can start in their plumage. That is why bee-eater spend a lot of time in sand and water bathrooms. They love to bask in the sun, smoothing their feathers, paying attention to each of them.
Reproduction and longevity
Bee-eater nest represents a long horizontal hole. It is digging, mainly by the male. A tunnel is laid 1-1.5 m deep and 5 cm in diameter. About 7 kg of soil are thrown out by birds during digging. Construction work takes up to two weeks. Birds work by approaches: dig an hour or two, and then arrange a break of the same duration.
A dug hole is the subject of quarrels between relatives. Not every bird wants to dig such a hole, if there is an opportunity to get it by force. A pair of individuals who decided to create offspring, have to beat off their home.
The main criterion when choosing a male to create offspring is the ability to feed the chicks. That is why the boyfriend treats the female as abundantly as possible. After the female makes a choice, mating occurs. In clutch there can be from 4 to 10 eggs. They are very small, originally pinkish in color. As they hatch, the color becomes more faded.
The female incubates the eggs, and the male obtains food. Sometimes future parents change roles. And this happens for about a month. Chicks are born completely naked. They begin to eat intensely from the first days, natural selection occurs, and the weakest chicks die with a lack of nutrition.
A month later, the chicks leave their parental nest. Grow chicks bee-eater young people help kinsmen from past broods. They get food for their younger counterparts, help to beat home from predators.
Unlike most representatives of birds, bee-eater do not care about the "floor" cover of the nest. They do not carry straws, fluff and foliage in a hole. In the process of hatching, the female belches out undigested insect remains: wings, legs, which form an excellent litter for posterity.
Birds of prey do not pose a threat to bee-keeper clutches. This is facilitated by deep burrows, for the arrangement of which birds spend a lot of time and effort. Dogs or foxes can disturb the nest. However, one egg weighs 5-7 grams, and even a large clutch is not able to saturate a predator. Life expectancy is about 4 years.