Blue-throated bee-eater



The blue-throated bee-eater (Merops viridis) is a bird with blue, green and brown plumage. It is one of two bee-eater species found in Singapore.

Description

The blue-throated bee-eater is recognisable by its bright blue throat, chestnut head and back, and black eye stripe. Its upperparts and wing feathers are predominantly green, while its lower back, rump and tail are a brilliant blue. Adults have distinctive long tail feathers. Juveniles lack the long tail feathers and have a bluish green head. Adults measure about 28cm in length, including their tails.1

Their flight is jerky and undulating, with a few rapid wingbeats followed by a long glide. Their call sounds like “berek berek”, giving rise to its Malay name, and is frequently uttered in flight.2

Reproduction
Blue-throated bee-eaters nest communally and excavate nest burrows in sandy banks, quarry faces and man-made sand piles. They breed between March to June in Singapore and lay three to six white eggs.3 Their breeding sites in Singapore have been documented at Changi, Sentosa, Bukit Timah and Pulau Ubin.4

Diet
Bee-eaters are insectivorous, feeding on a variety of insects such as bees, ants, dragonflies, beetles, and flies. They are known to look out for insects from a vantage point such as bare branches, swooping down and catching the prey while in flight. Smaller insects are eaten on the wing, while dangerous prey are branch-swiped and have their stings removed by rubbing them on a perch before being consumed. The bird occasionally catches small lizards and fishes.5

Distribution and Habitat
Blue-throated bee-eaters can be found in southern China and most of Southeast Asia. They occur in secondary forests, scrubs, old plantations and parklands.


They breed in Singapore, with most migrating to Indonesia from September onwards. They are one of two bee-eater species in Singapore, the other being the blue-tailed bee-eater (Merops philippinus) which is a common winter visitor to Singapore.6

Other Facts
The blue-throated bee-eater is featured on the Singapore $100 notes of the “Bird Series” currency notes released by the Monetary Authority of Singapore between 1976 and 1984.7 It was also featured on a S$2 postage stamp in the 1992 “Currency Notes & Coins” series, as well as a S$0.30 postage stamp from the 2007 series “Flora & Fauna Definitives”.8


Variant Names

Malay: Berek berek.

Chinese: 蓝喉蜂虎 (lan hou feng hu).9



Author

Shereen Tay



References
1. Yong, D. L., & Lim, K. C. (2016). A naturalist's guide to the birds of Singapore. Oxford, England: John Beaufoy Publishing, p. 99. (Call no.: RSING 598.095957 YON); Fry, C. H. (c1992). Kingfishers, bee-eaters & rollers: A handbook. London: Christopher Helm, pp. 92-­93, 277-­279. (Call no.: R 598.892 FRY)
2. Madoc, G. C. (1947). An introduction to Malayan birds. Kuala Lumpur: Malayan Nature, pp. 99­-100. (Call no.: RCLOS 598.29595 MAD-[GBH])
3. Yong, D. L., & Lim, K. C. (2016). A naturalist's guide to the birds of Singapore. Oxford, England: John Beaufoy Publishing, p. 99. (Call no.: RSING 598.095957 YON); Robson, C. (2011). A field guide to the birds of South-East Asia. London: New Holland, pp. 381-­382. (Call no.: RSING 598.0959 ROB)
4. Briffett, C. (1993). The birds of Singapore. Kuala Lumpur; Oxford University Press, New York, p. 49. (Call no.: RSING 598.295757 BRI)
5. Wells, D. R. (c1999). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Covering Burma and Thailand south of the eleventh parallel, Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore: Vol. 1, Non-passerines. San Diego, California: Academic Press, pp. 527-530. (Call no.: RSING 598.0959 WEL); Fry, C. H. (c1992). Kingfishers, bee-eaters & rollers: A handbook. London: Christopher Helm, pp. 92-­93, 277-­279. (Call no.: R 598.892 FRY)
6. Yong, D. L., & Lim, K. C. (2016). A naturalist's guide to the birds of Singapore. Oxford, England: John Beaufoy Publishing, p. 99. (Call no.: RSING 598.095957 YON)
7. Monetary Authority of Singapore. (2016). Notes. Retrieved 2016, June 15 from the Monetary Authority of Singapore website: http://www.mas.gov.sg/currency/circulation-currency/notes.aspx
8. CS Philathelic Agency. (n.d.). Singapore Stamps 1992. Retrieved 2016, June 15 from CS Philathelic Agency website: http://cs.com.sg/1992.htm; CS Philathelic Agency. (n.d.). Singapore Stamps 2007. Retrieved 2016, June 15 from CS Philathelic Agency website: http://cs.com.sg/2007.htm
9. Madoc, G. C. (1947). An introduction to Malayan birds. Kuala Lumpur: Malayan Nature, pp. 99-­100. (Call no.: RCLOS 598.29595 MAD-[GBH]); Yong, D. L., & Lim, K. C. (2016). A naturalist's guide to the birds of Singapore. Oxford, England: John Beaufoy Publishing, p. 99. (Call no.: RSING 598.095957 YON)



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Birds on postage stamps
Wildlife
Science and technology>>Zoology>>Birds
Birds in numismatics
Nature>>Animals
Bee eaters--Singapore