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The Colorful Bee Eater of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is home to nearly 500 bird species and it is a popular birdwatching destination. Among this wonderful variety of birds, the bee eaters aka කොළ කුරුමිණි කුරුල්ලා / පුංචි බිඟුහරයා  are a colorful and fascinating type of birds. They can be seen in almost all national parks and bird sanctuaries in the country. One cannot miss the vibrant shades of colors in their plumage.

Just like their name, bee eaters’ food consists of small insects, bees, wasps and hornets. Therefore, these bee eaters help in controlling the insect population as well. They are so swift and quick in their movements to catch insects in mid-air which is fascinating to watch.

There are over 20 bee eaters in the world and 3 of those varieties can be found in Sri Lanka.

Little Green Bee Eater

Baby bird at Kumana Sri Lanka

The Little Green Bee Eater (Merops orientalis ceylonicus) is a resident bird and also the smallest bee eaters of Sri Lanka. Their length is around 16-18 cm. This type of Bee eaters is seen mostly in dry, arid zones of Sri Lanka. Their feathers are luminous green with a bluish hue in the chin and throat area and a black stripe across the eye is a distinctive feature.

Chestnut Headed Bee Eater

Chestnut headed Bee Eaters at Wilpattu National Park

Slender 18-20 cm long chestnut-headed bee-eater (Merops leschenaulti) is also a resident breeder in Sri Lanka. They also have a black stripe across they eye but their head is of bright chestnut color.

Blue-Tailed Bee Eater

blue tailed bee eater

Bee eaters are skilled hunters. They can be seen often perched on dry twigs waiting to catch their prey. They are fast as missiles when they spot their prey. They have a habit of hitting the insect on a hard surface before devouring it. Once they are lifeless, they toss the prey high u and swallow them instantly. Although small, they eat around 250 bees a day. Now that’s a massive number of insects eaten by a single bird.

Bee eater pairs are quite committed to one another. They stay stick to their partner for many years. During courtship the male hunt for the prey and feed his lady. It’s a unique characteristic in the bird’s world.

Bee eaters do not have nests, instead they build them in burrows. They make burrows in the hard soil which is a tedious task. Their eggs are laid on the ground and both partners take turns to incubate the eggs. When the chicks come out both parents feed them.

Bee eaters are quite a chirpy set. Since they stay in large groups this can be noise at times.

If you would like to see these bee eaters, join Earth Lanka Events on a safari to Yala, Wilpattu, Udawalawe or other national parks in Sri Lanka.

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