Bird O'clock

10 Fascinating Facts About Bhm’s Bee-eater

Bhm’s Bee-eater, Merops boehmi, is a stunning bird species that belongs to the Meropidae family. These birds are found in Africa and are known for their vibrant colors, distinctive long beaks, and their impressive ability to snatch insects out of the air mid-flight.

Identification:

Field Identification:

Bhm’s Bee-eater is a medium-sized bird, measuring around 28 cm in length. They have a slender build and a long, curved beak that is perfectly adapted for catching insects.

These birds have a bright green coloration on their back, with blue feathers on their wings and tail. The throat and breast are a rich chestnut brown color, and their belly is a light green.

Similar Species:

Bhm’s Bee-eater can be easily confused with other bee-eater species such as the European Bee-eater and the Blue-breasted Bee-eater. However, notable differences include the chestnut brown color on their neck and breast, which is absent in other species.

The European Bee-eater has a blue-green head and lacks the distinctive chestnut brown color, while the Blue-breasted Bee-eater has a blue forehead that extends down the nape and neck. Plumages:

Bhm’s Bee-eater has two distinct plumages, the breeding and non-breeding plumages.

Breeding Plumage:

During the breeding season, the chestnut brown color on their neck and breast becomes more prominent in males, and they develop a brighter blue color on their wings and tail. Additionally, their bills turn a darker shade, and their eyes become brighter and more pronounced.

Non-breeding Plumage:

During the non-breeding season, the chestnut brown color on their neck and breast fades, and their blue feathers become less prominent. They also develop a yellowish tinge on their forehead and crown.

Molts:

Bhm’s Bee-eater has two molts, the pre-basic molt, and the pre-alternate molt. Pre-basic Molt:

This molt occurs during the non-breeding season, where the bird replaces its worn out or damaged feathers with new ones.

Pre-alternate Molt:

This molt occurs during the breeding season, where the bird replaces its feathers to achieve brighter colors and enhance their breeding display. Conclusion:

Bhm’s Bee-eater is a fascinating bird species known for its striking colors and unique beak structure.

Learning about their field identification, plumages, and molts can help bird enthusiasts and nature lovers differentiate them from other bee-eaters and gain a deeper appreciation for these incredible birds. Systematics History:

The first publication that described the geographic variation of Bhm’s Bee-eater was by Reichenow in 1894.

However, it wasn’t until the 20th century when the systematics of this species were fully understood. Geographic Variation:

Bhm’s Bee-eater has two distinct geographic variations, the western and eastern taxa.

The western taxa are found in West and Central Africa, while the eastern taxa are found in East Africa. The main differences between the two variations are their plumage colors and morphological traits.

Western Taxa:

The western taxa have a larger body size, a darker green back, and the blue color on their wings and tail is limited. The chestnut brown color on their throat and breast is less prominent, and their bill is slightly shorter and thicker compared to the eastern taxa.

Eastern Taxa:

The eastern taxa are smaller in size, have a brighter green back, and the blue color on their wings and tail is more extensive. The chestnut brown color on their throat and breast is more prominent, and their bill is longer and slender compared to the western taxa.

Subspecies:

Bhm’s Bee-eater has three recognized subspecies:

– Merops boehmi boehmi: Found in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Central African Republic. – Merops boehmi suahelicus: Found in Tanzania, Kenya, and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

– Merops boehmi cyanostictus: Found in Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia. Related Species:

Bhm’s Bee-eater belongs to the Meropidae family, which consists of 27 species of bee-eaters.

The most closely related species to Bhm’s Bee-eater is the White-fronted Bee-eater (Merops bullockoides), which has overlapping ranges with the western taxa. Historical Changes to Distribution:

Bhm’s Bee-eater has experienced some historical changes to its distribution due to various factors, including human activity and climate change.

Human Activity:

The expansion of human settlements, deforestation, agriculture, and hunting has negatively impacted the habitats of Bhm’s Bee-eater. These activities have caused a decline in their population size, and several subspecies have been listed as threatened or endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Climate Change:

Climate change has also affected the distribution of Bhm’s Bee-eater by altering their breeding patterns and migratory behavior. Studies have shown that rising temperatures have led to an earlier onset of breeding and reduced migration distances, which can impact their ability to adapt to changing environments and reduce genetic diversity.

Conservation Efforts:

To mitigate the negative impacts of human activity and climate change, conservation efforts have been implemented to protect the habitats of Bhm’s Bee-eater. These efforts include the establishment of protected areas, reforestation projects, and the promotion of sustainable agriculture and eco-tourism.

The IUCN has also recommended further research into the systematics of this species and its subspecies to better understand their ecology and conservation needs. Conclusion:

Bhm’s Bee-eater is a fascinating bird species that has undergone changes in its distribution and population size due to human activity and climate change.

Understanding their systematics, geographic variation, subspecies, and related species can help in their conservation efforts and promote their ecological sustainability. Further research into their behavior, ecology, and genetics can provide valuable insights into their evolutionary past and inform their conservation in the future.

Habitat:

Bhm’s Bee-eater has a wide distribution across Africa, and its habitat preferences vary depending on the subspecies and geographic variation. Generally, they prefer open, dry, and woodland savannas, riverbanks, and forest clearings.

Western Taxa:

The western taxa are commonly found in wooded savannas and gallery forests. They are also known to inhabit agricultural areas and degraded habitats.

Eastern Taxa:

The eastern taxa are commonly found in dry, thorny areas, arid bushland, and acacia savannas. They are also known to inhabit riverine forests and wooded grasslands.

Movements and Migration:

Bhm’s Bee-eater is a migratory species, and their movements vary depending on the subspecies and geographic variation. Generally, they undergo seasonal movements between their breeding and non-breeding habitats.

Western Taxa:

The western taxa undergo short-distance movements during the dry season and may move to different habitats in search of food and water. They are known to form local movements and breeding colonies during the rainy season.

Eastern Taxa:

The eastern taxa undergo long-distance migrations between their breeding and non-breeding habitats, covering distances of up to several thousand kilometers. They are known to form large flocks during migration and breeding season.

Breeding Habits:

Bhm’s Bee-eater is a colonial breeder, and they nest in burrows excavated in sandbanks or riverbanks. Both males and females participate in the excavation of nest burrows and take turns incubating the eggs.

The breeding season varies depending on the region, with the western taxa breeding from April to August and the eastern taxa breeding from September to November. Food Habits:

Bhm’s Bee-eater primarily feeds on insects, particularly bees, wasps, and flying ants.

They are known to snatch prey out of the air mid-flight, and their long, curved bill is perfectly adapted for catching insects. They perch on branches or wires while scanning the surrounding area for prey before launching into the air to catch them.

Conservation Status:

Bhm’s Bee-eater has faced several threats to its survival, including habitat loss, hunting, and climate change. The western taxa are considered of least concern by the IUCN, while the eastern taxa are considered near-threatened.

Several subspecies, including Merops boehmi suahelicus, are listed as endangered or vulnerable due to habitat loss and hunting. Conservation efforts to protect the habitats of Bhm’s Bee-eater include the establishment of protected areas, the promotion of sustainable agriculture, and educating local communities about the importance of conserving these birds.

Conclusion:

Bhm’s Bee-eater is a migratory bird species that is adapted to dry and arid habitats. Understanding their movements and habitat preferences can provide valuable insights for their conservation efforts.

Due to threats facing their survival, including habitat loss, hunting, and climate change, conservation efforts to protect their habitats and promote sustainable practices are crucial for their survival. Further research into their behavior, population ecology, and genetics can provide valuable information for their conservation and inform future management strategies.

Diet and Foraging:

Feeding:

Bhm’s Bee-eater is an aerial forager and hunts its prey while in flight. They use their sharp vision to locate their prey, latch onto them with their long beak, and return to their perching spot to remove the venomous sting before swallowing their meal.

Unlike some other bird species, they do not regurgitate food to feed their young. Diet:

Bhm’s Bee-eater feeds primarily on bees, wasps, and flying ants.

They are also known to feed on other flying insects, including dragonflies, butterflies, and grasshoppers. Their diet varies depending on the region and the availability of prey.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation:

Bhm’s Bee-eater, like most bird species, has a high metabolism and requires a constant intake of food to maintain their energy levels. They also have efficient temperature regulation mechanisms that allow them to regulate their body temperature and maintain a stable internal environment.

Their feather coverage helps them regulate body temperature and provides insulation against both high and low temperatures. Sounds and Vocal Behavior:

Vocalization:

Bhm’s Bee-eater has a varied and distinct vocalization pattern.

They are known to produce several sounds, including harsh and rasping calls, soft twittering, and a metallic, vibrating trill. The purpose of their vocalization is to communicate with other members of their species, establish and maintain breeding territories, and attract mates during the breeding season.

During breeding season, males engage in displays to attract females, which involves calling, wing-flicking, and other acrobatic behaviors. They also produce a chirping sound during courtship that is different from their regular calls.

When defending their territory, Bhm’s Bee-eater will make a series of warning calls to alert other members of their species of potential danger. They will also produce calls when flying, which is believed to play a role in communication during migratory movements.

Conclusion:

Bhm’s Bee-eater is an aerial forager that feeds on insects, primarily bees, wasps, and flying ants. Their diet varies depending on the availability of prey and region.

They have a high metabolism and efficient temperature regulation mechanisms that allow them to maintain a steady internal environment. They are known for their varied and distinct vocalization patterns, which serve multiple functions, including communication, territorial defense, and attracting mates during breeding periods.

Identifying these distinct sounds can help researchers better understand their behavior and ecology, improving conservation and management strategies. Behavior:

Locomotion:

Bhm’s Bee-eater is a highly acrobatic bird that is well adapted for flight.

They have strong and pointed wings that allow for fast and agile flight, with the ability to make quick turns and dives. They can often be seen perching on branches or wires while scanning the surrounding area for prey.

Self-Maintenance:

Bhm’s Bee-eater engages in several self-maintenance behaviors, including preening, dust-bathing, and bathing in water pools. Preening involves using the beak to clean and arrange feathers, while dust-bathing and bathing in pools help to remove excess oil and dirt from the feathers.

Agonistic Behavior:

Bhm’s Bee-eater engages in agonistic behavior when defending their territories or competing for resources. This can include displays such as flapping their wings, lunging or charging at competitors, and vocalizing to ward off potential threats.

Sexual Behavior:

Bhm’s Bee-eater engages in elaborate courtship displays that involve vocalization and acrobatic behavior by males. Females are known to select mates based on the displays of males, with the most elaborate and impressive displays often resulting in successful pairings.

Breeding:

Bhm’s Bee-eater is a colonial breeder that nests in sandbanks, using their long bills to excavate burrows for nesting. Both males and females participate in the excavation process, and they take turns incubating the eggs, which typically hatch within three weeks.

After hatching, the parents provide food for their young until they are able to fly, which is generally around three weeks after hatching. Bhm’s Bee-eater does not engage in communal feeding, and unlike some bird species, the parents do not regurgitate food for their young.

Demography and Populations:

Bhm’s Bee-eater is listed as near-threatened by the IUCN due to habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation caused by human activities such as deforestation and agriculture. Some subspecies, such as the Merops boehmi suahelicus, are listed as endangered or vulnerable due to hunting and habitat loss.

Studies have shown that populations of Bhm’s Bee-eater may be declining due to climate change, with changes in rainfall and temperature affecting the availability of prey and breeding habitat. Conservation efforts, including the establishment of protected areas, conservation education, and sustainable land-use practices, are crucial to the survival of this species.

Scientific monitoring, demographic modeling, and further research into their behavior and ecology can improve conservation management and enhance populations of Bhm’s Bee-eater. Conclusion:

Bhm’s Bee-eater is a highly acrobatic bird that engages in elaborate courtship displays and nests in sandbanks.

Their populations are threatened by habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation, particularly in the context of human activities such as deforestation and agriculture. Conservation efforts, such as the establishment of protected areas, scientific monitoring, and sustainable land-use methodology, can improve the survival of Bhm’s Bee-eater.

Further research into their behavior, ecology, and population dynamics can enhance the management strategies and population dynamics of this species. Bhm’s Bee-eater is a fascinating bird species that exhibits unique behavior, including aerial foraging, elaborate courtship displays, and colonial breeding.

Their populations are threatened by habitat loss, degradation, and climate change. Understanding their behavior, ecology, and population dynamics is crucial for effective conservation management and improving their populations.

Conservation efforts, such as establishing protected areas and sustainable land-use practices, can help mitigate the negative impact of human activities on their populations. The conservation of Bhm’s Bee-eater can also provide a broader significance for the conservation of biodiversity, which can help to promote ecosystem sustainability in Africa and beyond.

Popular Posts