In the diverse realm of avian wonders, there exists a diminutive creature whose exquisite appearance leaves admirers spellbound. Behold the Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis), a dainty bird adorned in resplendent bronze and intense emerald green plumage, perfectly complemented by its lovely long tail.
Belonging to the bee-eater family, this near passerine bird boasts a mesmerizing blend of colors. The predominantly bronze-green body is accentuated by a crown and nape shimmering in golden-green hues. The bird’s enchanting countenance is further adorned by a striking black eye-line, and its cheeks, chin, and throat are adorned with a captivating bluish-green shade.
A black half-collar gracefully separates the throat from the breast, while the wings boast black trailing edges. Notably, the outer under tail feathers showcase a subtle gray tone, while the median rectrices, or tail feathers, are elegantly elongated and imbued with a delicate purple shading. In male specimens, these streamers can reach an impressive length of up to 7 centimeters.
Completing the bird’s alluring visage is a black, curved bill, mesmerizing red eyes, and blackish legs and feet.
Males and females of the Green Bee-eater bear a striking resemblance to one another, with their features being practically indistinguishable. Juveniles, however, exhibit a slightly duller appearance, lacking the distinctive half-collar observed in their adult counterparts. Their eye-line is also less vibrant, their breast adorned in green, and their belly adorned in an almost ethereal white.
Green Bee-eaters can be found across a broad belt spanning sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal and The Gambia to Ethiopia, the Nile valley, western Arabia, and extending into Asia, reaching as far as India and Vietnam. Although they can thrive in arid regions, their presence is more pronounced in habitats further east.
Often perching on low vantage points, they gracefully traverse fence wires and electric wires in their quest for sustenance. While they are commonly sighted on the plains, they have been known to venture as high as 5,000 to 6,000 feet in the Himalayas.
As their name suggests, Green Bee-eaters predominantly feast on insects, with a particular fondness for bees, wasps, and ants. Their agile mid-air sallies from perches enable them to capture these winged morsels. Additionally, they also prey upon beetles, hymenopterans, and crabs. Before indulging in a delectable bee, these skilled foragers skillfully remove the sting by striking the insect against a hard surface.
Breeding season for the Green Bee-eater spans from March to June. In a departure from the habits of most bee-eaters, they are solitary nesters, fashioning tunnels within sandy banks. Within these tunnels, the female lays three to five eggs on bare ground at the tunnel’s end.
Both the male and female diligently incubate the eggs, a task that spans 18 to 22 days. After hatching, the young birds are nourished by both parents until they are ready to leave the nest, a process that typically takes 22 to 31 days.
Fortunate as it may be, the Green Bee-eater is not considered a threatened species, boasting a healthy population throughout its vast range. As we marvel at the delicate grandeur of this avian marvel, let us celebrate and cherish the enchanting beauty of the Green Bee-eater, a testament to the diverse wonders of our natural world.
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