Rainbow Bee-eater loves to eat bees
What is your signal that spring has finally sprung? A good one is the arrival of flocks of Rainbow Bee-eaters in southern Australia
If Bee-eaters are around your area and you’re in the south of Australia, you can enjoy their company until April next year, when they will again head off to chase the endless summer up north, in warmer areas.
If you’re in the north, you’re lucky. Some RainbowBee-eaters stay all year round because they love the warmth so much.
These gorgeously coloured birds spend winter time in New Guinea, Indonesia and the Solomon Islands and return to Australia in September.
If you want to see a Bee-eater, listen out for this call when you go walking.
Now that it’s September, Rainbow Bee-eaters will be looking for a mate to breed with.
Rainbow Bee-eaters aren’t like other birds that build their nests high up in trees. Bee-eaters build their nests underground!
When a Bee-eater finds a good sandy bank or a bare patch of flat earth, it tunnels into it. The tunnel is often over a metre long and has an enlarged egg chamber at the end.
A good place to spot a Rainbow Bee-eater when it’s not hiding in its nest is on a fence or telegraph wire. Noisy groups of Bee-eaters perch here and swoop down to catch flying insects midair in their long, slender beaks.
Rainbow Bee-eaters are found in most kinds of habitat except for dense forest. They hardly ever need a drink as the insects they eat contain all the moisture they need.
Avoid spraying insects outdoors or using chemicals in your garden. You could accidentally make birds and other animals that eat insects very sick.
DID YOU KNOW?
Rainbow Bee-eaters are immune to bee and wasp stings!
Brilliant, but Bee-Ware!
On the wing, they look like a flash of emerald with a dark line through the eye.
Often mistaken for a kingfisher, the brilliant Rainbow Bee-eater Merops ornatus is now in residence in the southern states, where it breeds before heading north to escape the chill of winter.
Rainbow Bee-eaters live in remnant bush, orchards and vineyards on farmland. They are regular visitors of quarries and mines, where they dig into the soft sandy banks to make a long nesting tunnel up to 1.6 metres in length. Perhaps this is how the Bee-eater got its nicknames ‘Gold-digger’ and ‘Gold miner’?
There are many species of bee-eater in Africa, but the Rainbow Bee-eater is the only representative of the family in Australia.
Look for Rainbow Bee-eaters on high perches such as power lines and dead tree tops, where they have a good vantage point from which to spy bees and wasps. Listen for the high, melodic, repetitive trill. They catch insects on the wing and if you watch closely, you’ll see the bee-eater rub or bash the bee against a branch to remove the pesky sting before gobbling them up.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Keep dogs away from nesting areas. The sandy nesting tunnels are vulnerable to dogs and foxes that dig them out and rob the eggs.