About Blue-Tailed Bee-Eater

The blue-tailed bee-eater (Merops philippinus) is a species of bee-eater that lives in the bee-eater family Meropidae. It is a near passerine bird. Although it is widely distributed across South and Southeast Asia, where many populations are highly migratory, it is only seen seasonally in many parts of its range, and only breeds colonially in a few small areas, mostly in river valleys, where it builds its nest by tunneling into loamy sandbanks. It is a threatened species in the United States. They are most commonly found in open habitats near bodies of water.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Piciformes
Family: Megalaimidae
Genus: Psilopogon
Species: P. Rubricapillus
Binomial Name: Psilopogon Rubricapillus

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Description

A richly colored, slender bird with a long tail, this species is similar to the other bee-eaters in appearance. Green dominates its appearance, with a narrow blue patch on its face and black eye stripes along its throat, as well as a yellow and brown belly; the tail is blue, and the beak is black. They are joined together at their bases by the three outer toes. It can grow to be between 23 and 26 cm in length, including the two elongated central tail feathers, which can be only two inches longer than the remaining ten feathers on either side of the tail. They’re both the same. – In its natural habitat, this species is usually found near water, and like other bee-eaters, it feeds primarily on flying insects, particularly bees (including large species such as the Xylocopa spp. ), wasps, and hornets, which are caught in flight by sorties from an open perch. The birds may also forage while in flight over estuaries, backwaters, and even the sea, but only if they are within a short distance of the coastline. A bee and a dragonfly are probably taken in roughly equal proportions by this species. To kill and break the exoskeletons of the insects that have been caught, they are beaten on the perch. Numerous other members of the order Coraciiformes exhibit this behavior as well. A rolling chirping whistling teerp is the most common way they communicate.

However, the blue-cheeked bee-eater is the only species within its range that can be confused with it. This species, on the other hand, prefers drier environments. Instead of green and black, the blue-tailed eagle’s rump and tail are blue, as opposed to the green and black of the other species. Rather than green, the blue-cheeked bird’s under tail feathers are bluish. It has a much smaller blue cheek patch, while the chestnut on the throat and breast is darker and covers a much larger area.

They breed in India from April to May, nesting in colonies of closely spaced nest holes in a vertical mudbank or even burrowing into gently sloping land. They breed in colonies of closely spaced nest holes in a vertical mudbank or even burrowing into gently sloping land. Heavy clay loams are avoided in favor of sandy and sandy clay loams, which are preferred by them. [6] They also prefer mud banks that are completely devoid of vegetation cover. The breeding of these birds has been observed in Sri Lanka in artificial sand dunes created by dredging sea sand from a reservoir.  The nest tunnel can reach a depth of nearly 2 meters. In a typical egg-laying cycle, 5 to 7 nearly round eggs are laid. Both the male and female are responsible for the care of the eggs. The parents keep an eye on the nest to make sure that there is no intraspecific brood parasitism or extra pair copulation occurring. In addition, these birds feed and roost in large flocks together.  After the breeding pair has begun incubating, one or two additional helpers may join them.  In spite of the fact that they appear similar to the human eye, males have longer central tail feather extensions than females, and UV reflectance studies have shown that healthy males have darker chestnut throats and brighter green body plumage, while females have brighter blue rumps and yellow chins (UV reflectance studies).

The Blue-cheeked bee-eater is the only species within its range that can be confused with it. Green dominates its appearance, with a narrow blue patch on its face and black eye stripes along its throat, as well as a yellow and brown belly; the tail is blue, and the beak is black. The blue-tailed eagle’s rump and tail are blue, as opposed to the green and black of the other species. They have darker chestnut throats and brighter green body plumage, while females have brighter blue rumps and yellow chins. They breed in India from April to May, nesting in colonies of closely spaced nest holes in a vertical mudbank or even burrowing into gently sloping land. The breeding of these birds has been observed in Sri Lanka in artificial sand dunes.

Taxonomy and systematics

This species has been considered conspecific with the Blue-cheeked bee-eater, which is a close sister taxon, the two of which form a clade with the Madagascan olive bee-eater. However, the two species are not conspecific. For a long time, the species was known by several names, including M. persicus javanicus, M. superciliosus javanicus, and M. superciliosus philippinus. In more recent years, the species has been designated as M. superciliosus philippinus.

Ecological interactions

This species has been considered conspecific with the Blue-cheeked bee-eater, which is a close sister taxon, the two of which form a clade with the Madagascan olive bee-eater. However, the two species are not conspecific. For a long time, the species was known by several names, including M. persicus javanicus, M. superciliosus javanicus, and M. superciliosus philippinus. In more recent years, the species has been designated as M. superciliosus philippinus.

Distribution and movements

India, Myanmar, and parts of Southeast Asia are among the countries where the species has a patchy breeding distribution. They have been observed breeding in several river valleys in India, including those of the Godavari, Kaveri, Tunga Badra, and Krishna rivers. They also make their homes in the eastern regions of Sri Lanka.

Blue-tailed bee-eaters are seasonal in many parts of their range, and they have been observed migrating in large groups during the day at places such as Tanjung Tuan (West Malaysia) and Promsri Hill (Thailand) (southern Thailand). They are seasonal visitors to parts of Malaysia and peninsular India during the winter months. Blue-cheeked bee-eater and blue-tailed hawk non-breeding ranges overlap in some areas of Gujarat and western peninsular India, but they do not breed there.

Status

The Blue-tailed bee-eater is considered to be a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which classifies it as such.

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