This species, like other bee-eaters, is a richly-coloured, slender bird. It has brown and yellow upper parts, whilst the wings are green and the beak is black. It can reach a length of 27–29 cm (10.6–11.4 in), including the two elongated central tail feathers. Sexes are alike.
This is a bird which breeds in open country in warmer climates. Just as the name suggests, bee-eaters predominantly eat insects, especially bees,wasps and hornets which are caught in the air by sorties from an open perch. Before eating its meal, a European Bee-eater removes the sting by repeatedly hitting the insect on a hard surface. It eats some 250 bees daily. Lizards and frogs are also taken.
These bee-eaters are gregarious, nesting colonially in sandy banks, preferably near river shores, usually at the beginning of May. They make a relatively long tunnel in which the 5 to 8, spherical white eggs are laid around the beginning of June. Both the male and the female take care of the eggs, which are brooded for about 3 weeks. These birds also feed and roost communally.
This year saw an increase in the number of Bee-eaters we had visit our garden, one day in August we counted twenty in the flock that spent an hour or so feeding in the vicinity of our house. There must have been lots of bees or wasps in the roof tiles, although we have never had a problem, maybe thanks to the Bee-eaters. It was fascinating to watch them swooping and diving for their prey, I was just disappointed that I was unable to catch any action shots, from time to time they perched for a rest and I was able to get the photos I am sharing here with you today.
The photos I took and some very distant shots but in flight, old ones from 2007, can be viewed in my Flickr.com album. European Bee-eater Photos should enlarge if you click on them, if you wish to view here in a larger size.
All photos are my own taken in August 2012.
All rights reserved by LindyLouMac Photo Collection
For further information and better photographs of the species in general visit Wikipedia - Bee-eater and for the type we have in our garden. Wikipedia - European Bee-eater