Bee-eaters settled in for the summer
Rainbow bee-eaters have settled into their summer breeding grounds after the northern migration to Carnarvon, northern Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
Birdlife Australia member Indre Asmussen said they returned to Geraldton at the end of September to breed in burrows in the ground.
“To me the rainbow bee-eaters are the sound of summer, when their distinctive ‘pirrrrt pirrrt’ can be heard,” she said.
“They often sit on prominent dead tree branches, and will use these as places to disarm bees and wasps, which they hold in their curved bill, bash and rub against the branch.”
Dr Asmussen said rainbow bee-eaters were burrow nesters that liked sandy ground in areas such as Glenfield, White Peak, Waggrakine, Wooree, Wandina and Tarcoola.
She said they also liked windrows near fire breaks or vertical erosion banks along the Chapman River. “They are very sensitive to disturbance,” Dr Asmussen said.
“A burrow is likely to be close by if you repeatedly see the birds flying around and perching on trees, often prominent dead branches.”
Dr Asmussen said Birdlife Midwest members had recorded rainbow bee-eaters near Spalding Park golf course this year.
However, she said she was unable to locate any near the Chapman River crossing aligned with Fairfax Road they used last year.
“We do not know for certain whether individuals return to the same site each year,” she said.
“However, observation at my parents’ White Peak farm suggests birds continue to use a site as long as things go well and they are not excessively disturbed.”
Dr Asmussen said rainbow bee-eaters were easy prey for cats and disturbed by earth works and traffic in sandy areas.
“Smart landscaping at your patch could attract these birds if you provide or retain sandy banks or sandy patches,” she said.
“If breeding on flat ground, they generally like vegetation to be short and have an open view to escape predators.” We can expect to see rainbow bee-eaters for a few more months.
“In February they gather for pre-departure and then migrate to tropical winter sites in late February,” Dr Asmussen said.
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