Lim Seik Ni and Tan Hwee Miem reported that Blue-throated Bee-eaters (Merops viridis) have been visiting their campus at the University Putra Malaysia (UPM) in Serdang, Malaysia from mid-April to end of September. They managed to locate their breeding ground at the campus area where they observed the bee-eaters’ behaviour.
What fascinated them as well as their birding seniors were the ways the birds sunbathed, especially the different postures taken. The birds laid on the flat ground spread-eagled with wings expanded and tail feathers spread, panting at the same time (top left). The neck may be inclined to one side with the feathers fluffed (above right).
In the above images, the bee-eater appears to be taking a sand bath, lying with the the feathers fluffed, neck exposed to the sun and bill open. In the centre image the open bill is pointing upwards.
According to Fry (2001), bee-eaters take sun bathe, dust bathing and water bathing. Sunning can take place at odd hours of the day. Extending the neck to one side to expose the feathers to the sun has been termed as “broken-necked” posture.
Fry, C. H., 2001. Family Meropidae (Bee-eaters). In: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & J. Sargatal (eds.), Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 6. Mousebirds to Hornbills. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp. 286-341.