Courtship feeding of the Chestnut-headed Bee-eater

on 20th November 2009

Wee Hiang Her’s study of the Chestnut-headed Bee-eater (Merops leschenaulti) was documented in Penang, Malaysia in early October 2009.

The image above shows the male (assuming it is the male) offering the female a butterfly he had caught earlier. This is a common courtship feeding ritual among bee-eaters and some other birds. There is another bee-eater perching nearby but there is no attempt at stealing the food.

Once the food is handed over to the female, he proceeds to court her further, hoping to complete the intended copulation (above). However, she is not interested in copulation just yet, wanting to eat the gift first. Thus she manipulates the food to eventually swallow it with a single gulp (below).

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

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