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Discover the Fascinating World of Blue-Tailed Bee-Eaters: Insights into Behavior Ecology and More!

The Blue-tailed Bee-eater is one of the most beautiful birds to be found in Asia. With its bright colors and elegant flight, it’s no wonder why this species continues to captivate the hearts of many bird enthusiasts.

In this article, we’ll explore the identification, plumages, and molts of the Blue-tailed Bee-eater, as well as provide some tips on how to distinguish it from similar species.


The Blue-tailed Bee-eater can easily be identified by its bright colors and unique features. It is a medium-sized bird, measuring around 23 to 30 centimeters in length, with a wingspan of up to 50 centimeters.

Its most notable feature is its long, pointed, and distinctive beak, which it uses to catch insects mid-flight. Its back and wings are bright green, with a pale blue throat, and a rufous-brown breast.

However, its most striking feature is its blue tail, which gives it its name. Field


If you’re looking to spot a Blue-tailed Bee-eater in the wild, there are a few key things to look out for.

They tend to fly low over fields and rivers, and their graceful and erratic flight patterns make them easy to spot. They can often be seen perched on a wire or branch, either alone or in small groups.

They have a distinctive call, which is a series of high-pitched, whistling notes.

Similar Species

The Blue-tailed Bee-eater is often mistaken for other bee-eater species due to their similar appearance. The closest species in resemblance is the Blue-throated Bee-eater, which has a darker blue throat and a browner shade of green on its back and wings.

The Chestnut-headed Bee-eater is also similar but has a chestnut-colored head and less blue on its tail. The Green Bee-eater and the Little Green Bee-eater share the same green and blue colors, but are much smaller and lack the distinctive blue tail feathers.


The Blue-tailed Bee-eater has two distinct plumages, which can be seen in different seasons. In the breeding season, the Blue-tailed Bee-eater’s plumage is more glossy, with brighter colors, and clearer distinctions between the different shades of blue and green on its body.

During the non-breeding season, the plumage becomes duller, and the blue colors become less prominent.


The Blue-tailed Bee-eater molts its feathers once a year, during which time they cannot fly as they lose their flying feathers. The first-year molt occurs during the non-breeding season, and the adults molt after the breeding season.

During the molting period, the Blue-tailed Bee-eater spends most of its time hiding in trees and shrubs, as it is more vulnerable to predators.


The Blue-tailed Bee-eater is a beautiful and unique bird, with distinctive features that make it easy to identify. By learning a few key identification tips and understanding its plumage and molt patterns, you’ll be able to spot this species on your next bird-watching trip.

So why not grab a pair of binoculars and head out to your nearest nature reserve? You never know what you might see!

, but rather end the article with a call to action encouraging readers to continue their exploration of the fascinating subject of bird systematics.

Systematics History

Bird systematics is the study of the evolutionary relationships between bird species, using various methods to categorize and classify them. The Blue-tailed Bee-eater has been the subject of several studies in the field of avian systematics, as experts have attempted to understand the geographic variation, subspecies, and related species of this colorful bird.

Geographic Variation

The Blue-tailed Bee-eater is widely distributed across Asia, from India to the Philippines, China, and northern Australia. As a result, it is subject to significant geographic variation, with different populations displaying slight variations in size, shape, and color.

One of the most notable geographic variations observed in the Blue-tailed Bee-eater is the difference between the South Asian and Southeast Asian populations. South Asian individuals tend to have a longer tail (up to 12 cm), with a brighter blue color on the rump and upper tail-coverts, while Southeast Asian individuals have a shorter tail (up to 10 cm), with a duller blue color on the rump and upper tail-coverts.


There are currently eight recognized subspecies of the Blue-tailed Bee-eater, each with distinctive characteristics that vary across their geographic range. These subspecies include:


M. p.

lepidotus inhabits the eastern Himalayas, Bangladesh and northeastern India. It distinguished by its small size, shorter tail (up to 8 cm), and brighter colors than other populations.

2. M.

p. andamanensis found on the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal.

This subspecies has a shorter bill and a pale blue-green nape. 3.

M. p.

philippinus found in the Philippines, this subspecies is similar to the nominate subspecies but has a darker and more extensive green on its back. 4.

M. p.

philippinusensis inhabits the Sulawesi and Lesser Sunda Islands, with a much shorter tail (up to 8 cm) and a darker green back. 5.

M. p.

javanicus found in Java and Bali, with a short tail (up to 9 cm) and a duller coloration than other subspecies. 6.

M. p.

cinereus inhabits the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo. This subspecies has a darker green back and a fainter blue rump.

7. M.

p. abdominalis found in the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal and the Nicobar Islands in the Indian Ocean.

This subspecies has slightly longer wings and a darker blue rump and tail. 8.

M. p.

kelaarti inhabits the jungles of Sri Lanka and has a shorter tail (up to 9 cm) than other populations and a paler green back.

Related Species

The Blue-tailed Bee-eater is part of the family Meropidae, which includes 27 species of bee-eaters found in Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The most closely related species to the Blue-tailed Bee-eater is the Blue-throated Bee-eater (Merops viridis), which is found in Southeast Asia and has a similar mandible shape, but different plumage.

The Chestnut-headed Bee-eater (Merops leschenaulti) is also similar in appearance to the Blue-tailed Bee-eater but has a reddish-brown head and breast.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The Blue-tailed Bee-eater’s distribution has changed over time due to various factors, including climate change and human activity. For example, the species’ range has expanded northwards in recent decades due to increased afforestation and the creation of irrigation systems in previously arid regions.

The species has also experienced declines in its population in some areas due to habitat loss and degradation, as well as hunting and capture for the pet trade. The Indian subcontinent, in particular, has seen a decline in Blue-tailed Bee-eater populations due to the loss of wetlands and other important habitats.

Call to Action

There is always more to learn about the fascinating world of bird systematics, and the Blue-tailed Bee-eater is just one example of the incredible diversity of avian species found across the world. Whether you’re an avid birder or just curious about the natural world, there’s no better time to explore the many wonders of bird systematics and learn more about the incredible birds that share our planet.

So why not start your own research project or join a local birdwatching group today? You never know what amazing avian discoveries await you!

of knowledge, but rather end the article with a call to action encouraging readers to continue their exploration of the fascinating subject of bird ecology.


The Blue-tailed Bee-eater is a bird species that inhabits various habitats in its range, including open woodlands, forests, scrublands, savannas, grasslands, marshes, and wetlands. It prefers open areas with scattered trees and bushes, where it can easily hunt for insects mid-flight.

In South Asia, Blue-tailed Bee-eaters can be found in areas with well-developed river and lake systems, which provide them with a rich source of insects. In Southeast Asia, they are often found in agricultural areas, where they can feed on the insects that are attracted to irrigated crops.

In Australia, the species is found in coastal areas, which offer nesting sites in sandy riverbanks and dunes.

Movements and Migration

The Blue-tailed Bee-eater is a migratory species, with populations breeding in summer and wintering in the warmer climates of Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Different populations follow different migration routes, with some crossing the Himalayas and others traveling long distances over the sea to reach their wintering grounds.

The timing of migration can vary between populations. In India and Southeast Asia, Blue-tailed Bee-eaters begin their breeding season in March and April, with adults arriving from their wintering grounds.

They then leave again in September and October, with some moving as far as southern Africa and Madagascar. In contrast, populations in Australia only stay for a limited period from August to March, with some birds dispersing inland after breeding.

During migration, the Blue-tailed Bee-eater forms large flocks, with individuals often gathering in the hundreds. These flocks travel together to their wintering grounds, feeding on insects along the way.

The bird’s strong flying ability allows them to cover long distances rapidly, so that they can reach their destinations before food becomes scarce. Blue-tailed Bee-eaters often follow the same migration routes year after year, using landmarks or the position of the sun to help them navigate.

Some individuals may even use the magnetic field to orient themselves during migration, with studies suggesting that they may have a magnetic sense that allows them to detect changes in Earth’s magnetic fields.

Call to Action

The Blue-tailed Bee-eater’s fascinating movements and migratory patterns offer us insights into their ecology and biology, and also serve as a reminder of the incredible diversity of the bird kingdom. By exploring the habits and behaviors of this beautiful species, we can better understand the ecological roles that they play in their ecosystems and the challenges they face in a rapidly changing world.

So why not take some time to learn more about bird ecology today? Whether you’re an amateur birder, a bird-enthusiast, or simply someone who enjoys the wonders of the natural world, there’s always something new to discover and explore.

Whether you’re looking to spot a Blue-tailed Bee-eater in the wild, or simply learn more about its habits and movements, there’s no better time to start your journey into the fascinating world of avian ecology. of knowledge, but rather end the article with a call to action encouraging readers to continue their exploration of the fascinating subject of bird behavior and communication.

Diet and Foraging

The Blue-tailed Bee-eater is a specialized insectivore, feeding primarily on flying insects such as dragonflies, bees, wasps, and flies, which it catches mid-air. The bird’s diet is supplemented with other small insects, including beetles, bugs, and grasshoppers.


Blue-tailed Bee-eaters hunt their prey in an aerial display, often flying in pairs or small flocks. During the hunt, the bird flies erratically, making sudden turns and swoops in the air to catch its prey.

Once captured, the insect is taken to a nearby perch, where it is repeatedly hit against the branch to remove the wings and legs before being swallowed whole. The bird’s sharp, pointed beak is perfect for catching insects mid-flight, allowing it to snatch prey with ease.

In addition, the Blue-tailed Bee-eater’s eyes are strategically placed on the sides of its head, allowing it to have a wide field of vision, which is important for spotting prey in flight.


The Blue-tailed Bee-eater’s diet is strongly influenced by availability, with the bird often feeding on the most abundant insects in a given area. The species is known to migrate to find abundant insect populations, moving from one area to another to follow food availability.

Their diet also changes depending on the breeding season. During nesting, the birds feed on larger insects, such as grasshoppers, to provide enough protein for their growing chicks.

In contrast, during the non-breeding season, they consume smaller insects such as midges and termites.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

Blue-tailed Bee-eaters have a high metabolic rate, which allows them to fly great distances and maintain their body temperature. In addition, the bird has various adaptations that help it regulate its body temperature.

For example, the bird may lower its metabolic rate during the night or early morning to conserve energy. The bird’s plumage also plays an important role in temperature regulation.

In hot weather, the Blue-tailed Bee-eater spreads its wings, exposing its underwing feathers and reducing body temperature through evaporative heat loss.

Sounds and Vocal


The Blue-tailed Bee-eater is known for its distinctive vocalizations and calls, which are used for communication within the flock. They use a range of vocalizations including twittering, chattering, and harsh scolding calls.

They also have a series of beautiful melodic calls that are often heard at dawn or dusk.


Blue-tailed Bee-eaters use a range of vocalizations to communicate, with different sounds being used for different situations. During breeding, they use high-pitched calls to communicate with their mates, with sharp trills and twittering calls being used to communicate with other members of the flock.

The bird also has a long, melodious call that is often heard at dawn or dusk, which serves as a territorial call and may be used to attract mates. The call is typically a series of high-pitched, descending whistles, which can be heard from a great distance.

In addition to vocalizations, Blue-tailed Bee-eaters also have visual displays, such as bill-shaking and head-bobbing, which are used during courtship and to establish dominance within the flock.

Call to Action

Bird behavior and communication offer us fascinating insights into the lives of these incredible creatures, and the Blue-tailed Bee-eater is no exception. Whether you’re interested in their diet and foraging habits or their vocal behavior, there’s always something new to learn and explore when it comes to avian behavior.

So why not take some time to observe the Blue-tailed Bee-eater in its natural habitat, or listen to its beautiful calls at dawn or dusk? By exploring the fascinating world of bird behavior, you’ll gain a greater appreciation for the intricate ways in which these creatures interact with the world around them, and how they communicate with each other to survive and thrive in their environments.

of knowledge, but rather end the article with a call to action encouraging readers to continue their exploration of the fascinating subject of bird ecology and behavior.


The Blue-tailed Bee-eater exhibits a range of interesting behaviors, including locomotion, self-maintenance, agonistic behavior, and sexual behavior.


The Blue-tailed Bee-eater is a skilled flyer, capable of fast and agile flight patterns. The bird’s wings are designed for aerodynamic efficiency, with a narrow, pointed shape that allows them to fly long distances while conserving energy.

When the bird is not flying, it hops and walks along tree branches or on the ground in search of prey.


Like all birds, the Blue-tailed Bee-eater spends a significant amount of time on self-maintenance, including preening, bathing, and dust-bathing. Preening involves using its beak to condition feathers and remove dirt and parasites, while bathing and dust-bathing help to keep feathers clean and in good condition.



Blue-tailed Bee-eaters exhibit agonistic behaviors such as bill-fighting and chasing, which are used to establish dominance within the flock. Dominance hierarchies form within the flock, with individuals that are more aggressive or have a higher quality territory occupying higher positions within the hierarchy.



During the breeding season, Blue-tailed Bee-eaters engage in a range of sexual behaviors, including courtship displays, mating, and territorial displays. Courtship displays often involve males bringing food to females, with the male vocalizing and clicking its wings during the display.

Mating occurs after successful courtship displays, with male birds often guarding their mates.


Blue-tailed Bee-eaters form monogamous pairs during the breeding season, with both males and females contributing to nesting and care for young. The birds typically breed in colonies, nesting in sandbanks or cliffs near a source of water.

The breeding season is typically between March and June, with males arriving first to establish territories and attract mates.

Breeding pairs engage in elaborate courtship behavior, with males often bringing food to the female to show their ability to provide for offspring.

The female Blue-tailed Bee-eater lays up to six elongated spherical eggs, which are incubated for about three weeks. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs, with the male often taking the night shift.

The chicks hatch out with a sparse covering of down

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