Chestnut-headed Bee-eater: Prelude to breeding

posted in: Bee-eaters | 1

“The birds, I guess, were in the stage of courtship, and at the same time, looking for location to burrow. The threesome puzzled me a bit. Perhaps they were young birds, two males, trying to impress a female.

“Alone, I just couldn’t tell if it was a male or a female… When it comes to courtship, and perhaps fighting to win the opposite sex, plenty of actions can be seen. This is when the birds become most charismatic. The birds also become oblivious to your presence, unless you are real, real close!

“There was actually another bird watching and ready to join in the action of these two birds, but I have cropped it out. Now this is love at first bite!”

Adrian Lim
6th January 2009

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater (Merops leschenaulti) nest alone or in groups of six to eight pairs. Colonies of hundreds of nests have also been located.

Some species of bee-eaters, especially those that breed in colonies, have complex social relations. A colony may include from 15 to 25 families, with members of each family feeding, roosting and breeding cooperatively. Here, non-breeding males of a family help to feed the young of the most closely related breeding pair.

However, in Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, nest helper have not been detected (Fry & Fry, 1992).

Fry, C.H. & K. Fry, 1992. Kingfishers, bee-eaters and rollers. New Jersey, Princeton University Press. 324 pp.
2. Gill, F. B., 2007. Ornithology. W. H. Freeman & Co., New York.

This post is a cooperative effort between and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

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