The beautiful rainbow bee-eater.
The beautiful rainbow bee-eater.

New bird column talks about the rainbow bee-eater

NEW NewsMail contributer Allan Briggs says he wants to educate and entertain the public about native birdlife in his weekly column, Briggsy's Birds.

Allan is a founding member and now secretary of Birdlife Capricornia and hopes to spread his love of birds so  residents will conserve them into the future.

As this is the first of a new column about birds in the Bundaberg region it will be useful to discuss the various habitats that provide the special conditions that different species of birds require for feeding and breeding.

The coast and islands provide beaches, mudflats and mangroves where shorebirds, seabirds and mangrove species can find food.

Rivers, creeks and wetlands are suitable for waterbirds that feed on the water and bush birds that like to feed in trees that line the waterways.

Paperbark swamps are where species like egrets, herons and spoonbills can be found wading through the shallow water fishing.

Forests and woodlands have flowering trees and shrubs that provide nectar and fruit for many species of honeyeater, parrots and figbirds.

Grassy paddocks and road verges provide for seed eaters like finches.

In all of these habitats there are birds of prey waiting to pounce on young, weak or unwary animals on the ground.

Bundaberg has all of this and more, providing a home to an amazing variety of bird species that I will be introducing you to over the coming weeks and months.

I would like to start with one of our more colourful species, the Rainbow Bee-eater.

It has a curved bill with a sharp tip, a black line through the eye that highlights the red eye, an orange patch on the top of the head, yellow throat with a black crescent, beautiful blue wings and a dark blue tail.

Extending beyond the tail are two tail feathers that are longer in the male than the female.

They feed on insects,  with a preference for bees and wasps which is where the species gets its name.

They sit in a vantage point and then fly out to seize prey and return to the same point where they rub the prey against a branch to remove the sting and close their eyes to prevent being sprayed by poison from the bee's poison sac.

It nests in small colonies and digs a burrow in sandy banks or on flat sandy ground with a nest chamber at the end.
Have a question?

Email your bird queries to Allan at  abriggs@irock.com.au.