We heard the Rainbow Bee-eaters late this afternoon.
My wife and I always love hearing and seeing the first Rainbow Bee-eaters of the season. Sometime in early spring this species moves from northern Australia to the southern parts of the country to breed.
They are unusual in their nesting habit: they make a small tunnel in the earth, on the graded sides of roads or in the banks of creeks, rivers and wash-aways. This tunnel can be up to 60cm long and ends in a small chamber where they lay their eggs. It has been quite a few years since they last nested on our property. I hope they will stay and make a nest this year.
Over the last few weeks the Rainbow Bee-eaters have be flying around our garden and mallee scrub. During the winter months they head north to warmer parts of the country, and every spring they head south for spring and summer.
It is always a delight when we hear them arrive. It’s a sure sign that spring has arrived. Almost every day for the last few weeks we’ve heard them around, or seen them overhead. Perhaps this year they will nest on our property like they did some years ago?
I find their nesting habit to be quite unusual. They make a short 30 – 40cm tunnel in a sandy spot and then construct a small nesting hollow at the end of the tunnel where they lay the eggs. Sometimes the burrow into the side of a road cutting, or the bank of a creek or river, providing the dirt is not too hard or compacted. I remember being fascinated by these birds as a child growing up on a farm in the Murray Mallee region of South Australia. That fascination has remained to this day.
The Rainbow Bee-eater would have to be one of my all time favourite birds. We regularly have these beautiful birds in our garden, flitting around catching bees and other winged insects. We always enjoy hearing their calls when they arrive in spring, and feel a little loss when they leave in late summer or early autumn. They are wise spending the winter months in the warmer parts of northern Australia.
This year we haven’t heard or seen them nearly as much as usual. Perhaps they didn’t hang around to nest in our area this year. Yesterday we heard about three or four of them calling from our mallee scrub. I went outside and had good views of at least two of them. Within a few minutes they appeared to have moved on. Perhaps they are already on their migration north.
Rainbow Bee-eaters would have to be high on my list of my favourite birds. In fact, the whole bee-eater family are quite spectacularly coloured birds. I saw several different species during my visit to Royal Chitwan National Park in Nepal a few years ago.
The Rainbow Bee-eater is the only species present in Australia. We always know that spring is well and truly here when they announce their arrive from over wintering in the northern parts of Australia. In the past they have stayed around our home all summer, even nesting on several occasions.
This year they came through a few months ago and then we didn’t hear or see them until earlier this week. It seems a little early for them to be heading back north again. Perhaps they just came to visit to cheer me up. I’d like to think so.
One of the Australian bird species I always enjoy seeing (or hearing) is the Rainbow Bee-eater. This bird is a seasonal visitor in the summer months here in Murray Bridge, South Australia. Small flocks (and sometimes only an individual) arrive in spring and depart on their way north in late summer (about February) or early autumn (March).
Many years ago we had them nesting on our five acre block of land. From childhood I have been intrigued by this beautiful bird that makes its nest at the end of a small tunnel in the sand or in the sandy bank of a road or railway cutting.
I suspect that they currently nest in the banks of an ephemeral creek about hlaf a kilometre from our home. They may also nest up the hill from our place.
This summer they arrived here a little later than usual. Over the last month I don’t know if they have visited our garden as we have been away interstate. Since returning last Friday, however, they have been hanging around almost every day, coming for a short while and then moving elsewhere. I haven’t been able to get close enough for a new photo, so I’ve used one taken several years ago.