Thursday, April 10, 2008

Little Green Bee-eater

Little Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis) is a near passerine bird in the bee-eater family MeropidaeIt is resident in a belt across sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal and The Gambia to Ethiopia, the Nile valley, western Arabia and Asia through India to Vietnam.This species should not be confused with the Little Bee-eater, Merops pusillus. Migration is limited to seasonal movements depending on rainfall patterns.
landing on ground to catch its prey in Kolkata.
Like other bee-eaters, this species is a richly coloured, slender bird. It always has green upper parts, but the head and underpart colours vary widely depending on the subspecies. Thus, southeast Asian birds have rufous crown and face, and green underparts, whereas Arabian breeders have a green crown, blue face and bluish underparts. The wings are green and the beak is black. It reaches a length of 16-18 cm, including the two elongated central tail feathers. These elongated tail feathers are absent in juveniles. Sexes are alike.
This is an abundant and fairly tame bird, familiar throughout its range. It is a bird which breeds in open country with bushes. In Africa and Arabia it is found in arid areas, but is more catholic in its habitats further east. Just as the name suggests, bee-eaters predominantly eat insects, especially bees, wasps and ants, which are caught in the air by sorties from an open perch. This species often hunts from low perches, maybe only a metre or less high. It readily makes use of fence wires and electric wires. Before eating its meal, a bee-eater removes the sting by repeatedly hitting the insect on a hard surface.
Unlike most bee-eaters, these are often solitary nesters, making a tunnel in a sandy bank. The breeding pairs are often joined by helpers.They sometimes form small colonies, or nest near other bee-eaters. They lay 4 to 8 spherical white eggs. Both the male and the female take care of the eggs. These birds roost communally, lined up on a tree branch. The call is a soft trill.
A study showed that the Little Green Bee-eaters is capable of identifying with the behaviour other animals. It was able to predict whether a predator at a particular location would be capable of spotting the nest entrance and then behave appropriately in disguising its location. The ability to look at a situation from another's point of view was previously believed to be possessed only by primates.

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