This was exactly what Liu Jianzhong a.k.a. Jz was thinking when he stalked a Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus) some weeks back – and documented what it did.
The bee-eater had just had its fill of insects and glided with its wings flapping in slow motion to its favourite perch (above). There, it perched with its wings still held high for some time. Such characteristic “butterfly” display is not unusual among bee-eaters.
Such a display sometimes end with copulation, if there is another bird of the opposite sex present. But in this instance it simply proceeded with its comfort routine.
First, it preened its feathers (above left). Then it fluffed its plumage (above right). All these activities are necessary to keep the feathers in top condition. Then the bird indulged in stretching activities to keep the muscles in top condition and stimulate blood circulation, or so ornithologists believe.
It first stretched both its wings upwards, in a sort of “angel” posture (above). Then it stretched its right wing and right leg together, at the same time fanning its tail feathers (below left). This was followed by the left wing and left leg and similarly fanned its tail feathers (below right).
Finally, it cast a pellet of undigested insect exco-skeleton, etc. (below).
All images by Liu Jianzhong.
This post is a cooperative effort between www.naturepixels.org and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.