#Creature Feature – Merops ornatus (Rainbow Bee-Eater)

The Rainbow Bee-Eater can be defined by its striking colours, long, curved bill and long tail.

It has a golden crown and a red eye, with a black stripe from the base of the bill to the ears. Bright orange feathers can be found under their wings, with a blue lower abdomen. Their distinctive tail and tail streamers are black with a blue-tinge, being shorter and thicker in females. Juvenile Bee-Eaters are more of a dull green tone, with much shorter tail streamers than adults.

This colourful species is found in Australia, eastern Indonesia, New Guinea and sometimes in the Solomon Islands. They inhabit open forests, woodlands and shrublands, often near bodies of water. Farmland with remnant vegetation and vineyards are known to attract these birds, while they also have been observed creating nesting tunnels in quarries and mines.

Rainbow Bee-Eaters have a diet of insects, namely bees, wasps, dragonflies, beetles, butterflies and moths. They catch their prey on the wing and transport them to a perch where they beat them against a solid surface and swallow them. Insects with venomous glands and stings are rubbed against the perch to allow the bird to eat their prey safely.

The Bee-Eaters gather in small groups before retreating to summer breeding areas once they are done over-wintering in the north. Both males and females will choose a good nesting site in sandy banks and dig long tunnels that lead to a nesting chamber, often lined with foraged grasses. Both parents will incubate the eggs and feed their young, often recruiting helpers to help out with these duties.

Source: https://birdlife.org.au/bird-profile/rainbow-bee-eater

Jarna Kendle – Bushcare Officer

Related Posts

Leave a reply