A few simple facts on Bee Eaters Merops apiaster
Wildlife here in both the Serranía de Ronda and Sierra de Grazalema continues to cause me wonder and amazement.
This Spring, despite a slow start to the arrival of many summer residents, as is often the case, nature had a way of playing catch-up. Bee Eaters, after a delayed arrival at their traditional breeding sites, soon were at about the same stage as they would have been in a ‘normal’ year. Males and Females were soon tight on their eggs only leaving to be fed by their industrious partners (only the female brood’s eggs and young at night).
Study of their feeding technique always holds a fascination for me, their gentle flap, flap glide over open fields and flower studded embankments, make catching insects look deceptively easy. Of course the reality is anything but! Take a look at their long delicate bills and consider that they actually catch their prey only with the fine tip of their mandibles. The precision required for this method of catching insects is truly amazing. The prey is held in the tip of the bill and slowly turned so any sting is effectively distanced away from any softer parts of the bird. Returning to a favourite perch, the bird will then alternate between beating and rubbing the insect against the hard surface of the perch in order to remove the sting before enjoying a high protein snack.