Blue-throated Bee-eater: 2. Nest excavation

on 8th July 2009

The courtship and mating of this group of Blue-Throated Bee-Eaters (Merops viridis) have been posted earlier. This post by Micky Lim a.k.a. limmick documents nest excavation.

There were four pairs of bee-eaters and they started digging their nests in June 2009. The birds would fly directly onto the ground, dug the soft soil with their feet to slowly excavate the tunnels (left). As the depression deepened, they used their bills to dislodge the soil and feet to displace the loosened particles backwards. Each bout of digging took a few minutes before the birds flew off to rest. Excavation continued until the nests were ready. The discarded particles of soil were strewn around the nest entrances.

Each time the birds approached the nest entrance to start the digging, they would look around to check whether they were being watched before starting to dig.

A completed nest in cross-section probably looks like in the attached diagram below – about 1-2 feet below the surface (field) and about 3-5 feet long – ending in a chamber of sorts with probably a raised portion for the chicks to stay in.

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

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

4 Responses

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