Small Green Bee Eater (Merops orientalis)

The Small Green Bee Eater is a small, beautiful bird and is found widespread from Africa through to South East Asia. India has a large population of this species. They are mainly insect eaters and they are found in grassland, thin scrub and forest often quite far from water. Several regional plumage variations are known for this colourful bird. They are mostly seen in the plains but can sometimes be found up to 5000 or 6000 feet in the Himalayas.

It is very interesting to watch Bee Eaters catch their prey. They predominantly eat insects, especially bees, wasps and ants, which are caught in the air by sorties from an open perch. Before swallowing prey, a bee-eater removes stings and breaks the exoskeleton of the prey by repeatedly thrashing it on the perch. Photographers are often seen to either wait for this moment, or when they are in flight; for they make a beautiful picture.

The breeding season is from March to June. They nest in hollows in mud banks, and the nest tunnel that they construct can be as much as 5 feet long and the 3-5 eggs are laid on the bare ground in the cavity at the end of the tunnel.

An interesting aspect amongst Small Green Bee Eaters is that they anticipate human behaviour and are very careful about not giving away the location of their nests.

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