I first noticed this beautiful bird sitting on the transmission wires passing over the wheat field. Due to green colour, these looked like small parrots. Then we found it in many places in our neighbourhood like over the water bodies and trees.
This bird is called Green Bee Eater with its scientific name as “Merops orientalis” is an exquisite little bird with bright emerald green plumage. The wings are largely green, sometimes tinted with gold or reddish-brown, and have a black trailing edge.
The bird is fairly gregarious and forages either alone or in small groups. From a perch on a fence, low bush, or sometimes even on cattle, the little green bee-eater takes rapid flight after an insect, seizing its prey and returning to the perch, where it strikes the insect to kill it before devouring it. As its name suggests, the little green bee-eater prefers to prey upon bees, but will also take other insects such as fruit flies and grasshoppers.
It exhibits a peculiar behaviour called predator avoidance which is not common in other bird species. If a predator is concentrating its attention on green bee eaters nest, it will not enter the nest until the predator has looked away. This remarkable behaviour demonstrates that the little green bee-eater aware of where the predator is looking, but also suggests it is aware of the predator’s mental state. This awareness, known as ‘theory of mind’, is typically only exhibited by humans and a few other primate species.
Most of the information is taken from Arkive website and I am thankful to them for this. We took many pictures of this exquisite bird.
Notice the reddish color in the neck of bird in the last picture.
Although the onslaught of building activity is devouring the agricultural lands everywhere,Fortunately there is still greenery around the place I live. There are wild shrubs, fields where crops like wheat, rice, maize and cattle fodder grows and the woods in the reserved areas.
There are a number of birds which live here. One of them is black Drongo, jet black bird. It is an expert insect catcher. It is very aggressive towards crows and other marauders like eagles and falcons. Many other gentle birds try to be close to this bird for protection. Here are some pictures. These pictures have been taken by me while on walks and sitting in the balcony of my home from where the open land is visible.
In our younger days, I remember we often spotted the “Neel Kanth” as it is called in india. “Neel” means “blue” and “Kanth” means “throat”, in the agricultural fields here in Punjab. At that there were no electrical transmission lines crossing the fields. There were trees and there were fields. It was considered auspicious to see it because its name is connected to God Shiva whose throat also became blue to due drinking of the poison which threatened to destroy the world. It is the mythology part.
Nowadays it is very difficult to spot this bird. The possible reasons could be the decline in its population and its semi migratory habit. Some literature suggests the deforestation, grazing pastures and pollution.
I think during summers it shifts base to some other place because I have not spotted the bird during all the summer. Last year during February and March, I spotted it sitting across the dry wood trunks, poles and electric transmission lines during the wheat maturing season.
Neelkanth or the Indian Roller Bird (Coracias benghalensis), is a member of the roller family of birds. They are found widely across tropical Asia stretching from Iraq eastward across the Indian Subcontinent to Indochina and are best known for the aerobatic displays of the male during the breeding season. It sits patiently for quite long periods and then catches the insects etc and returns to the same spot. Once I saw it sitting on a big stone in a pasture. It will fly, catch its prey and revert back to that stone. These are some of its pictures.