restricted access Bee-eaters
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European Bee-eater L: 25–28 cm (10–11") This is a large, strikingly coloured bee-eater with a chestnut-and-golden back, turquoise blue underparts, and a canary-yellow throat . Females and juveniles are duller than males, and juveniles lack the adults’ pointed central tail feathers . Although small numbers can occur year-round, it is a common and widespread spring and summer visitor (October–April) to Kruger, where it can aggregate in huge numbers . Flocks passing overhead are often detected by delicate and fluid “pruuip” and “kwip-kwip” flight calls . Bee-eaters are agile, adept fliers, either hawking insects in the air, or from a regular perch to which they return and where prey is bludgeoned before being swallowed . Bee-eaters are slender, long-tailed birds that feed in the air, gliding between deep, quick beats of long, pointed wings. Bee-eaters: 1 southern carmine bee-eater european bee-eater 96 Southern Carmine Bee-eater L: 38 cm (15") A large, spectacular, long, slender, carmine-pink and teal-blue bee-eater with a long, pointed tail and black bill and facial mask . Immatures are duller than adults and lack long tail feathers . It is a common non-breeding summer migrant (December–April) to Kruger, where it can gather in large groups and often attends bush fires to feed on fleeing insects . The “trik-trik-trik” or “ga-gaga ” calls, sound more guttural than those of European Bee-eater . Although not a common behaviour, Southern Carmine Bee-eaters have been recorded sitting on the backs of antelopes or Kori Bustards (page 66), swooping out and catching insects that are flushed . It specializes in catching large flying insects, including termites, cicadas, dragonflies, butterflies and locusts and regurgitates pellets of indigestible insect remains . BIRDS OF BROADLEAVED WOODLAND AND CAMPS immature 97 White-fronted Bee-eater L: 23 cm (9") This bee-eater’s bright and distinctive colours and pattern make it unmistakable: look for the white face, bold black mask, red throat and square green tail . It is a common resident that is almost always found close to the sandy banks of larger rivers, where it breeds . It has a complex social system, with the dominant breeding pair assisted by several helpers to form families, and families banding together to form clans, which defend feeding territories from other clans . Some ‘pirates’ may remain at the breeding colony, waiting for unrelated birds to return with food, which they steal and feed to their own chicks! In addition, some females lay eggs in the nests of unwary neighbours; literally dumping the burden of raising their chicks into another pair’s nest, like a cuckoo . Colonies are often raided by monitor lizards and egg-eating snakes . Little Bee-eater L: 15 cm (6") A tiny, colourful, mostly grass-green bee-eater with a canary-yellow throat separated from burnt-cinnamon underparts by a black gorget . It has rufous wings and a black-tipped tail but these are obvious only in flight . This is an uncommon resident throughout Kruger, with small parties darting around clearings, calling a sibilant “s-lip” and other high-pitched notes . Birds often perch relatively inconspicuously on small twigs and branches, often lower than 1·5 m above the ground, from which they make sallies to catch insects . At night, small parties may roost shoulder-to-shoulder to stay warm . Bee-eaters: 2 and roller: 1 98 ...