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Sunday, September 2, 2012

THE BLUE-TAILED BEE-EATER(Merops superciliosus javanicus)

Sinhalese : RANILLA or AMBEYA

RECOGNITION—Length about 12 inches; sexes alike ; distinguishable by its bronzy bluish-green plumage, broad black eye-streak, long, slender, curved beak and elongated central tail-feathers.

Gliding gracefully on extended wings, circling low hither and thither, snapping up a dragon-fly here, a bee or other flying insect there, The gay Blue-tailed Bee-eater sails glider-like over the still waters and grassy flats beside many a tank and lagoon during the winter months. But it is a true migrant and returns northwards during the summer to breed. In early October small flocks appear, for the most part flying leisurely south wards, in loose formation, keeping in touch by calling freely to one another with their rather mellow, attractive “ teerp, teerp”. On reaching their winter quarters, they quickly spread themselves over the countryside, choosing chiefly the vicinity of water where bees and other winged insect abound. Although  they often alight on some dead branch, convenient stick or post, to rest before launching out again in pursuit of there winged prey—bees, butterflies, dragon-flies, such like insects. Towards evening they flock to some communal roost in a clump of bamboos or bushy trees.

DISTRIBUTION---This Bee –eater is common over most of the Island from October to April but returns to India to breed. But the little Green Bee-eater, a smaller, Headed Bee-eater, short-tailed, brilliant-headed and also a resident, with similar habits, are plentiful through out the year.

NESTING---Like other Bee-eaters, it lays its eggs on the soil in a rounded chamber at the end of a tunnel, several feet in length, excavated in the side of a bank or mound. The 4 or 5 nearly spherical white eggs are glossy and hard in texture; they measure about 23.2x20.1 mm.

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