Blue-throated Bee-eater: 6. Tragedy

on 17th July 2009

Part 6 of the Blue-throated Bee-eaters (Merops viridis) saga is reported by Micky Lim a.k.a. limmick. Check out the earlier parts: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

With construction going on day in and day out, there was the danger of the nesting site being destroyed before the chicks were ready to fledge. After a particularly stormy night when it rained heavily, one of the nesting holes caved in. The bee-eaters were seen trying to clear and repair the nest but after half a day of trying, they abandoned the nest. Then the inevitable happened… the trees around another nesting hole were uprooted… with a bulldozer parked nearby (above). The other two nesting holes seemed to have been spared for the moment.

The birds appeared stressed, flying around frantically to and from their usual perch, often with prey in their bills. They did not go to the nests and so the chicks remained unfed that morning.

An adult was later found dead on the ground (left). As the bee-eaters do not normally land on the ground except at their nests, was it killed as it was entering its nest?

A pair was flying around the area, frantically swooping low on the ground from time to time. They were also flying under the porch of the building near the nest, something that had not happened before.

Towards evening, the photographers decided to intervene. They hoped to find and get the chicks out in time. There seemed to be no other options. It was agreed by all that human intervention (only as last resort) was necessary.

Permission was obtained from the site manager/supervisor to locate and dig around the damaged nest. The workers were again very accommodating and agreed to our request and even accompanied us (site safety was also an issue).

Tree branches were strewn all over the area where the nest was supposed to be. The marker stick near the nest entrance could not be located. After much searching, the nest entrance was finally located by one of the workers who joined in the search. It was right under the parked bulldozer (above).

And so the rescue began…

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.

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