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Blue-tailed x Little Green Bee-eater hybrid?

on 11th September 2009

“I am just a beginner to bird watching. Have been doing so for the past two years in areas in and around my hometown Chennai, India.

“This is a nice web site that I visit from time to time to mostly admire bird photos. I recently saw your articles on interbreeding in birds [1, 2, 3 and 4]. Would like to ask you if any interbreeding has been observed among different bee eaters.

“I am asking because I observed a pairing between Blue-tailed Bee-eaters (Merops philippinus) and Little Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis) and have enclosed a photo of the resulting young one (left). I took this photo in Chennai, India.

“I was inside the Theosophical Society, Chennai, for bird watching and bird photography. After sometime I sat in a secluded spot under a tree. I was accompanied by a small female black dog and she was rolling on the dried grass and enjoying herself. There was a lot of bird activity nearby. I took my camera and waited for the right moment. I was not disappointed. I saw a pair of Eurasian Golden Orioles (Oriolus oriolus) flying from one bush to another. The male finally settled down in the Jack fruit tree and posed quite nicely for sometime. The female bird was nearby in a bush.

Then, I saw the Little Green Bee-eaters diving and catching flying insects. I noticed that one of the birds looked different from the others. I waited for the bird to sit still so that I could take a photo and try to identify the species. As you can see from the photo, she/he looks very much different from the Little Green or the Blue-tailed. I think this is an offspring of the Blue-tailed and the Little Green. As far as I know interbreeding among these two species of bee-eaters has not been observed previously. Being a beginner to bird watching and bird photography it was quite an experience to observe something new.”

Suchitra V. Srinivasan
Chennai, India
4th September 2009

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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