“Bee-eaters often wag their tails and many of us would have seen this common behaviour. Hilary Fry (The Bee-eaters, 1984) says that ‘all perched Bee-eaters wag their tails back and forth (originally for balance now ritualised I suspect’. Of some species she says ‘youngsters out of the nest … tail-wag vigorously…’
“But I’d like to bring attention to another form of tail-wagging, this one side-to-side. I have observed this frequently and posted on this previously, see: HERE.
“Today I had an eye level, car-as-a-hide opportunity, to watch an immature Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus philippinus) did extensive one side-to-side tail wagging.
“I fortunately managed to capture some of the tail movements in a still image – above tailed fanned wide, below tail at rest.
“Close up of tail at rest below.
“This behaviour I believe is an ‘excited’ response and request for feeding.
“This immature bird was accompanied by an adult. As the adult caught prey the immature would delightfully call out and wag the tail side-to-side. I suspect the immature bird was too old to feed anymore and did not get a bite (or my presence impaired feeding). See video below.
(Apologise for the particles on the lens, had just been walking in tall, wet grass and not noticed it was speckled with water. Image taken handheld in the car, so some movements.)
“The calls HERE can also be heard on the video. Sonogram and waveform below.”
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
4th November 2016
Location: Tambun, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Secondary growth near limestone hills