The spectacular Rainbow bee-eaters are back! This morning I spotted 2 Rainbow Bee-Eaters (Merops ornatus) on the western side of Herdsman Lake. They have been off up north (a bit like our Grey Nomads) enjoying the warmth, whilst we shiver through winter. In winter there isn’t much in the way of flying insects, so they migrated to where there are lots of flying food. However, before it gets too hot they return to the south west to breed and spend the summer.
Around Herdsman Lake they are particularly fond of eating damselfies and dragonflies that are now in abundance around Herdsman. However, they also catch bees, wasps, beetles, butterflies and moths.
They are a beautiful bird with distinctive colours of vivid green, blue, chestnut with a black stripe through the eye. Females have shorter, thicker tail streamers compared to males, but otherwise look the same. Their flight pattern is also interesting, as it flaps then glides, flaps then glides, before perching, where it will prop until it spots its next likely victim. Now is a great time to watch them as they begin to excavate their underground chambers and tunnels in preparation for the breeding cycle.
The Nyungars called Rainbow Birds, "Birin-Birin", which is an onomatopoeia of their call. Click here to find out what their call sounds like (credit Andree Griffin & R.J. Swaby; Birdlife.org.au)
Birdlife.org.au has some great information on these birds.