Dollarbird processing a Carpenter Bee…

During the documentation of the pair of Dollarbirds (Eurystomus orientalis) that were defending their breeding territory at the TV antennae LINK, the video clips showed two instances of a Dollarbird flying back to the TV antenna with a Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa sp.) between its mandibles. These could be aerial captures. It was not possible to establish whether they were the same bird or different birds.

Dollarbirds normally feed on large hard insects like beetles, mantis, crickets, grasshoppers, shield-bugs, cicadas, honeybees, including small lizards (Fry, 2001). However, there is no mention of Carpenter Bees. Two earlier posts on Dollarbirds catching Carpenter Bees can be found HERE and HERE.

Dollarbird with Carpenter Bee – video grab.

The head of the bee was firmly clamped between the mandibles od the Dollarbird. The bee was not swiped on the perch as is usual with most insects. Instead, it was subjected to crushing by the mandibles as they clamped and unclamped on it. This took expert handling, especially when perched high up on the antenna. On two occasions the bee slipped off the mandibles and the Dollarbird flew down to retrieve it.

Constant pressure of the mandibles caused the Carpenter Bee to eventually stop struggling. Only then was it swallowed, head first. Swallowing was followed by the mandatory swiping of the bill on the metal rod of the antenna.

YC Wee
17th July 2018

Fry, C.H., 2001. Family Coraciidae (Rollers). 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. 342-377.

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