View Full Version : Green Bee Eater - notes and observations

Atul Sinai
22-11-2012, 08:10 PM
Date: 03-Nov-2012

Time: 6.45 am – 9.45 am
On a Saturday morning I was sitting along the coast of river Mula studding Green Bee Eaters for three hours. Made some observations. Documented them with photographs, videos and notes.


Every Bee Eater has a set of 3-4 perches, he keeps on shuffling around.
Some perches are shared by more than one Bee Eater during the peak time.

Atul Sinai
22-11-2012, 08:11 PM
If the entire perch is available they fine tune their position on the perch.
The perch is selected depending upon the insects flying nearby. It also depends upon the availability of the perch and the hierarchy.
General tendency is to pluck Bees/insects from the air, near their perch.

Atul Sinai
22-11-2012, 08:12 PM
Their attempts are calculated and decisive. They don’t take a flight if they are unsure about it.
The success rate varies depending upon individuals. On an average the success rate appeared to be more than 50%, a quantitative analysis is yet to be done.
An unsuccessful attempt is often followed by another attempt. Second attempt more successful on many occasions.
They scratch with their legs and clean the feathers with their beaks

Atul Sinai
22-11-2012, 08:13 PM
cleaning its feathers

Atul Sinai
22-11-2012, 08:15 PM
Once the Bee Eaters higher up in the hierarchy had feed themselves, they move away to rest. The younger ones get more opportunities and better positions on the perch then.
Their long tail helps them to maintain balance while landing.

Atul Sinai
22-11-2012, 08:16 PM
They often smash their catch on the branch maybe to kill it. Sometimes this also helps to disorient the bees that are holding tight to its beak.

Atul Sinai
22-11-2012, 08:17 PM
They toss up the catch quite often during the process of gulping.

Atul Sinai
22-11-2012, 08:18 PM
Bees are more frequent catch compared to dragonflies and other insects

Atul Sinai
22-11-2012, 08:19 PM
They take longer time to eat dragonflies as compared to bees.

Atul Sinai
22-11-2012, 08:20 PM
Rare behavior seen – Green Bee Eaters plucked up Bees from the water surface. In the below image you can see the wet feathers.

Atul Sinai
22-11-2012, 08:22 PM
Behavior traits observed:

Very decisive and calculated
Overambitious at times
Restlessness after a failed attempt

Saktipada Panigrahi
22-11-2012, 09:22 PM
Wonderful observations supported by photographs. Your amazing patience deserves deep appreciation.
The bee-eater faces no difficulty in catching speeding bee or dragonfly in the air, but it faces some difficulty in killing dragonfly or bigger insects. You have rightly observed it kills them by dashing it against the branch or wire.
Thanks for sharing.SaktiWild

P.S.:Atul Bhai,I have one suggestion. You may think of writing the entire nature study at one place having each paragraph(s) devoted to a particular activity and placing photographs in between with a caption or sub-head.

Roopak Gangadharan
22-11-2012, 09:35 PM
Nice set of images Atul, Good details and well exposed. liked the second image a lot.the wing blur and the landing pose with the catch looks very nice.

It is good that you have recorded your observation along with supporting images. Over a longer time frame and with a larger set of observations you will be able to make more definitive conclusions on aspect like selection of perch, hierarchy, choice of prey and the general behavior traits you have noted. More sets of random observations like these will form the required empirical base. Nice to know that you are taking the effort and spending time, not many feel this is a priority nor have the patience required.

Prey is thrashed against a solid surface by birds not only to kill but also to soften and remove the hard Exoskeleton, stings, sharp projections and spikes in many insects and other prey. These undigested harder parts if consumed are regurgitated as pellets.


Prasad Dingankar
24-11-2012, 01:10 PM
Nice documentation and photos AtulBhai... Thanks for sharing.

Keerthy Rajagopal
25-11-2012, 09:29 AM
A fantastic documentation of the bee eater's behaviour, and equally excellent pics to go with it.
Thanks Atul for sharing.

Atul Sinai
26-11-2012, 10:59 AM
Thanks all for the comments.

Shaktipada, Rupak, thanks for your inputs and suggestions

Abhishek Jamalabad
26-11-2012, 08:30 PM
Very nicely done Atul. Recording observations as notes is an aspect of wildlife watching that many people overlook. It can be a huge help when one may need to compare behaviour, for example with bee-eater populations in other regions or in the same region in different seasons.
It would be great if you could also record parameters such as time, atmospheric temperature, and if possible wind speed and direction when the birds are active. May help you establish a relation between their activities and environmental conditions.

Atul Sinai
27-11-2012, 08:40 AM
Yeah Abhishek. Planning to buy a Kestrel weather meter. Also need to get a GPS for accurate geographic positioning.