The chestnut-headed bee-eater (Merops leschenaulti) is a richly colored, slender bee-eater, belonging to the family Meropidae.
These bee-eater species are distributed in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, south China, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Malaysia. The chestnut-headed bee-eater species are gregarious and nest colonially in sandy banks. There are three recognized subspecies of these bee-eater species.
Chestnut-headed bee-eater - Overview
- Scientific name: Merops leschenaulti
- Species author: Vieillot, 1817
- Synonyms/Protonym: Merops Leschenaulti Vieillot, 1817
- Family: Meropidae › Coraciiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
- Vernacular names: English: Chestnut-headed bee-eater, Chinese: 栗头蜂虎, French: Guêpier de Leschenault, German: Braunkopfspint, Spanish: Abejaruco cabecirrufo, Russian: Буроголовая щурка, Japanese: チャガシラハチクイ, Malay: Burung Beberek Kepala Coklat
- Other names: Bay-headed Bee-eater
- Distribution: India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, south China, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia
- Diet and feeding habits: flying insects, honeybees, wasps, moths, ants, winged termites, crickets, dragonflies, butterflies, locust and grasshoppers
- IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The three recognized subspecies of Merops leschenaulti are: Merops leschenaulti leschenaulti Vieillot, 1817, Merops leschenaulti andamanensis Marien, 1950 and Merops leschenaulti quinticolor Vieillot, 1817.
Appearance, physical description and identificationThe chestnut-headed bee-eater (Merops leschenaulti) is a richly colored, slender, smallish bee-eater, measuring 20 cm in length and weighing 20 to 30 grams.
The bee-eater has bay-brown forehead, crown, mantle, nape and ear-coverts. There is a black lore passing as a band under the eyes and ear-coverts. The wings, lower back and tertiaries are green. The tertiaries have bluish tips. The rump and the upper tail-coverts are pale blue with sheen.
The chin, side of lower face and throat of the bee-eater are lemon yellow. The central tail-feathers lack streamers and are bluish on the outer side and greenish on the inner-side. There is a chestnut throat band extending and merging with nape. Below this, there is a black throat band and a ill-defined yellow band.
The breast and belly are yellowish green. The vent region is pale bluish green. The undertail is pale gray. The irises are reddish brown and the feet are gray. The chestnut-headed bee-eater call is a soft "prreee or prruup" sound.
|Birds of India - Image of Chestnut-headed bee-eater - Merops leschenaulti by Francesco Veronesi|
|Indian birds - Image of Chestnut-headed bee-eater - Merops leschenaulti|
|Birds of India - Photo of Chestnut-headed bee-eater - Merops leschenaulti|
Origin, geographical range and distributionThe chestnut-headed bee-eater species are distributed in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, south China, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Malaysia.
In India, the chestnut-headed bee-eater species are distributed in the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
The chestnut-headed bee-eater nominate subspecies M. l. leschenaulti is distributed in Sri Lanka, south India, north India, Nepal, Bhutan, northeast India, south China, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
The chestnut-headed bee-eater subspecies M. l. andamanensis is distributed in Andaman Islands and Coco Islands. The subspecies M. l. quinticolor is distributed in Indonesia (Sumatra, Java and Bali).
Ecosystem and habitatThese chestnut-headed bee-eater species have moderate forest dependency. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 100 meters. These bee-eater species inhabit a wide range of artificial and natural ecosystems. They inhabit artificial ecosystems like rural gardens, agricultural fields and plantations.
The natural ecosystem of these chestnut-headed bee-eater species includes tropical and subtropical dry forests, tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests, tropical and subtropical dry shrubland, sub-tropical open woodland, rivers, streams and creeks.
Diet and feeding behaviorThe diet of these chestnut-headed bee-eater species is mostly flying insects. Honeybees, wasps, moths, ants, winged termites, crickets, dragonflies, butterflies, locust and grasshoppers are their primary food.
The chestnut-headed bee-eater species hunt their prey from an open perch. They hawk and catch the prey with the bill. After returning to the perch, the prey is battered and rubbed on the perch to break the exoskeleton and remove the sting and venom before swallowing.
Reproduction and breeding habitsThe breeding season of the chestnut-headed bee-eater is from February to June in India. The breeding season is from May and October in Indonesia. The laying season is during May in Malaysia. Loose breeding colonies of ten to hundred birds are formed.
These chestnut-headed bee-eater species are generally monogamous. Nesting sites are usually sandy banks. Both of the pair dig a long tunnel with their beaks and remove the sand with their feet.
The nest-tunnel ends in a wide incubating chamber. The typical chestnut-headed bee-eater clutch may contain five or six spherical white eggs. Both the parents incubate eggs and care for the young ones.
Migration and movement patternsThe chestnut-headed bee-eater species are partially migratory birds.
The northern chestnut-headed bee-eater populations in India, southern Nepal, southern Bhutan, northern Myanmar and Southern China (Yunnan) are migratory, moving southwards for wintering. The other populations are non-migratory and are resident.
Post breeding, the juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.
Conservation and survivalThe global population size of the chestnut-headed bee-eater (Merops leschenaulti) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of these species is considered to be increasing. Throughout its range it is reported to be locally common. The generation length is 6.2 years. Their distribution size is about 12,000,000 sq.km.
The chestnut-headed bee-eater (Merops leschenaulti) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable, either under the range size criterion, or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion. The habitat degradation is the main threat that may endanger the survival of these species.
IUCN and CITES statusThe IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the chestnut-headed bee-eater (Merops leschenaulti).
1.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chestnut-headed_Bee-eater_-_Thailand_S4E1282.jpg
Image author: Francesco Veronesi | License: CC BY-SA 2.0
2.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chestnut-headed_bee-eater_(Merops_leschenaulti)_from_nilgiris_DSC_1097.jpg
Image author: PJeganathan | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
3.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chestnut_headed_bee_eater_at_corbett.jpg
Image author: Dr deepak rastogi | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
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