Green Bee-eater: Of Birds And Bees
Have you ever seen a fairy flying?
I have seen more than one and this is what they look like…
In flight, my fairy is green with brown wings and has long tail streamers. She wears a black eye mask and her eyes are fiery red. A black band across her neck is clearly visible. Her green head turns golden brown with age. Green bee-eaters are among the smallest of the Bee-eater family.
Here is what I have observed:
This “fairy” comes with a sanction to kill. As her name suggests, she kills bees but they are not the only ones. Grasshoppers, crickets, dragonflies, and moths all make up her diet. The Bee-eater selects a favorite perch, usually a wire or a twig on a tree, from which, she suddenly flies gracefully and swiftly and is back in a jiffy with a bee in her beak.Back on her perch, she tosses the bee up in the air several times so as to position it such, that the bee is held by its tail end. Then, she gives the bee a few whacks against its perch to kill it. She, then, tosses it up again to catch it by its mid belly and a gives it a few more whacks to remove the sting. And then, she swallows the bee whole.
Bee-eaters are spring migrants in the Delhi region, arriving at the beginning of March and leaving before October, breeding there. While down south, they are residents but in lesser numbers.
Their nests are generally a mud hole along fields or on sandy banks and even on gravel/mud cliffs. I have seen it nest in the soft soil around freshly dug up building foundations and freshly ploughed fields – and, to me, that is her big threat. Why? Because such habitats remain disturbed or get destroyed quickly. No one really bothers about the birds’ presence there.
The other big threat is related to her diet. Humans perceive bees as a threat and have their hives removed or sprayed with lethal insecticides. At other times, bees are exploited for their honey in very cruel fashion. Bees are very hard working. They pollinate flowers – small flowers, big flowers, in gardens, in the wild, in trees, bushes, farms or on the ground. Without bees, there will be fewer fruits, seeds and no honey for us. Also, no favorite food for our fairy.