Blue-throated Bee-eater: 8. Excavating two further nests

on 22nd July 2009

Check out the earlier parts of the Blue-throated Bee-eaters (Merops viridis) saga: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

Micky Lim a.k.a. limmick continues with Part 8 of the Blue-Throated Bee-Eaters series, posting it on 27th June 2009 in

“And so we continued with our monitoring of the 2 remaining bee-eater nests – the feedings were still going on regularly and the construction work seemed to have moved away from the nesting field for the moment also. So even as we knew that we could intervene and dig out the remaining nests/chicks, we did not do so as we wanted the chicks to have as many days as possible in their natural habitat and being fed/cared for by their parents… each day gained is one day stronger for their survival we felt…

“Then 3 days later another change occurred which affected the nesting again… this time, huge pipes were placed near the Nest 2 area… and the same behavior from the parent birds was observed… they would fly around the area frantically with prey/feed in their bills and perched on nearby branches on both the right and left sides of the nest but did not land on the ground and go into the nest… we monitored for another few hours just to be certain and then again decided that we must take intervening action – so the ‘Rescue 2’ call went out and the time was set for lunch time that day – during the period when the workers take a break and so minimise any disruption to their construction work…

“So at the appointed hour a few of us gathered at the site and went to the site manager to request for permission to dig again… he was again most accommodating and sent his China foreman to accompany us to find the nests… this time the nest was easy to locate (the marking stick was intact as well) (above left) and also the Thai senior worker mentioned that he ensured that the pipes did not cover the hole… but the pipes were only about 2 feet away and thus the parent bee-eaters were not comfortable to continue feeding their chicks even though the hole was not covered/blocked up…

“Lesson to be learnt here: There is definitely a comfort zone – usually more than just a few feet – likely more than a few metres, where humans (and even inanimate objects as in this case – the pipes) will disturb/interfere with nesting birds and cause them to stop or even abandon their nests/young!

“Two chicks were rescued. We also found one dead chick and an unhatched egg (above right).”

YY Chong took over documenting… “The second nest we dug that day (above left). It took us around 5 mins to dig until we reached the chicks (above right). We managed to find two live chicks (2 chicks in the hands of Micky, below left). We quickly placed them in the shade because the sun was very bright and hot.

“One chick was found dead. As you can see, the nest also contained various foods (below right).”

Dr JWK Cheah continued monitoring and posted the following on 28th June… “Micky Lim dug with bare hands to ensure that the chicks would be safe (below left). Micky recovered the carcass and an unhatched egg (below right). This is similar to the situation in Nest 3 as both encountered the same scenario where the adults were unable to feed the just-hatched chicks for more than 24 hours.

“…Once in the open, the chicks started to move up the tunnel to the new foster parent! They were collected into their new home, the Yellow Ark (below left). When hand fed, they sprang at the meal worms after being denied nutrition for so long (below right).

“Meanwhile, the two bee-eater chicks from the first rescue were ready…”

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

2 Responses

  1. Thanks for the Rescue Saga of the Bee eaters! It was must have been quite an adventure, with the elements of fun, excitement, tragedy, rescue and hope!!

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