This bird’s defining characteristic is its forehead, which shimmers in a range of blues and greens. Additionally, it boasts a lengthy blue stripe stretching from its throat down to its chest and a faint yet noticeable yellow beak with green accents.
Meet the Blue-bearded Bee-eater – a colorful bird species that is commonly found in Asia. This bird is known for its vibrant blue feathers on its chin and throat, which make it stand out from other bee-eater birds. It has a long, curved beak that is perfect for catching and consuming bees and other flying insects. The Blue-bearded Bee-eater typically lives in open woodlands, gardens, and parks, where it can easily find its prey. Keep an eye out for this beautiful bird the next time you’re out in nature!
The Blue-bearded bee-eater, scientifically known as Nyctyornis athertoni, is a bird species that possesses unique features. It has long feathers on its chin that can be fluffed up to resemble a beard. It is the largest bee-eater in its family, measuring 31-35 cm in length and weighing 70-93 grams. The bird’s bill is curved like a sickle, and its tail is square-ended without wires. Its green plumage with a turquoise forehead, face, and chin makes it easily noticeable. When the bird fluffs up its elongated throat feathers, it creates a bearded effect. This bird’s belly ranges from yellowish to olive with green or blue streaks.
It’s worth noting that the male and female blue-bearded bee-eaters share a similar appearance, although the male has a higher ultraviolet reflectivity in its blue throat feathers than the female. This bird species was named after Lieutenant John Atherton, a member of the 13th Light Dragoons who died in 1827. A specimen of this bird was acquired by Lieutenant Atherton’s niece, Mrs. P.J. Selby, and described by her and Sir William Jardine in their publication “Illustrations of Ornithology,” which was published in 1828.
The bee-eater is a distinctive avian species that can be found in various regions across the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. It thrives in diverse environments.
The above description talks about a type of birds that are commonly found in forest clearings in the Malayan region, and some parts of peninsular India. They can live in various habitats, especially at medium altitudes below 2000 meters in forests that range from thin to fairy dense, often with clearings. These birds are usually seen alone or with a small group of up to three individuals, and they have an uneven distribution across their range. It can be quite challenging to detect their presence in an area.
These birds are known for their distinctive long blue feathers on their throats, which gives them their unique name. They are less sociable and active than other smaller bee-eater species, despite their loud calls. Unlike many other bee-eaters, their tails have a square end and lack the distinct “wires” created by longer central tail feathers.
The blue-bearded bee-eater is a fascinating bird when it comes to its behavior and ecology. These birds rely mainly on bees as their primary food source, and the way they deal with giant honeybee colonies is unique. They intentionally provoke the colonies, causing the guard bees to attack them. However, they then catch and consume the bees while in mid-air. Although their primary foraging technique is through aerial sallies, they sometimes gather food from tree bark. The blue-bearded bee-eaters have also been observed associating with mixed-species foraging flocks and feeding near the flowers of Erythrina and Salmalia. However, their exact dietary preferences in these situations are yet to be fully understood.
The bee-eaters are a bird species renowned for their distinct and loud calls, although they do not frequently vocalize. They are less active than their smaller counterparts and their calls encompass various sounds including a cackling noise similar to hornbills, a series of dry “Kit-tik…Kit-tik” sounds and hollow nasal “kyao” calls. When paired, they may perform duets that involve cackling and rattling noises culminating in brief purring notes. Their fight pattern is smooth and reminiscent of barbets.
Between February and August, the Blue-bearded Bee-eater breeds in India. During the courtship phase, they perform feeding rituals, bowing and fanning their tail. Before laying eggs, the nesting process begins approximately a month prior. They construct deep tunnels in mud banks to lay four spherical, white eggs.
Pause for a second and bask in the melodious sounds of this feathered friend’s chirping: