abejaruco esmeralda (Merops Orientalis) is a exquisite bird of bright emerald green plumage. The wings show black trailing edges. The outer feathers of the lower part of the tail are bright gray, and the medium rectrices are long and purple. The streamers can reach up to 7 cm in male. The black bill is long and curved downwards. The eyes are very intense red. The legs and feet are blackish.

The female is similar to the male, but has shorter streamers, duller throat, and narrower mid-neck.

The breeding is more discreet. Half neck is missing. The line of the eyes is duller and paler. The chest is pale green and the belly is almost white.

We can clearly distinguish the features of the emerald bee-eater.
We can clearly distinguish the features of the emerald bee-eater.

Features

The little bee-eater is an aerial animal and it can be identified by a narrow black stripe on its throat, known as a "gorget," as well as by a black mask that runs across its crimson eyes. Also distinctive are the two central, long, narrow, black streamers on the tail.

Your bones, as in most birds they are light to help them maintain flight without problems

The wings are largely green, sometimes tinged with gold or reddish brown, and have a black trailing edge. The crown may be green in color, or it may be strongly tinged reddish-brown, and the bill is long and black.

Eight subspecies of the little emerald bee-eater are recognized: Eastern adequate green, Merops orientalis cleopatra, Merops orientalis flavoviridis, Merops orientalis muscatensis, Merops orientalis cyanophrys, Merops orientalis beludschicus, Merops orientalis orientalis orientalis y Merops orientalis ferrugeiceps. The subspecies may differ slightly in appearance. For example, the throat and chin of the little emerald bee-eater is electric blue in the Arabian Peninsula, green in North Africa and Southeast Asia, yellow in Sudan, and pale blue-green in India.

This graceful bird can be heard chirping softly, or giving short, high-pitched 'ti-ti-ti' alarms.

Behavior

It is a fairly gregarious bird, with up to 30 birds resting very close to each other on a branch, and up to 20 congregating to bathe together in the dust. Dust baths are believed to help birds expel harmful parasites and remove excess fat from their feathers.

The little emerald bee-eater exhibits a particular predator avoidance behavior that distinguishes it from many other species. If a potential predator is looking at the little green bee-eater nest, it will not enter until the predator has looked the other way. This remarkable behavior shows that the little bee-eater is aware of where the predator is looking, but also suggests that it is aware of the predator's mental state. This awareness, known as the "theory of mind," is typically exhibited only by humans and some other species of primates.

An emerald bee-eater in flight
An emerald bee-eater in flight

Habitat

The little bee-eater predominantly inhabits arid forests with sparse trees and bare or sandy soil. It can also be found in thickets around crops, in plantations, on the banks of lakes or in dry riverbeds, as well as in open terrain such as pastures, gardens, and overexploited farmland.

Distribution

This little bird has a vast range, stretching from Mauritania in West Africa, through sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent to Nepal. Its range extends to Southeast Asia, from central China, the south, to Thailand and Vietnam.

Food

The small emerald bee-eater feeds alone or in small groups of 15 to 20 individuals. From a perch on a fence, a low bush, or sometimes even cattle, it flies quickly after an insect, grabbing its prey and returning to the perch, where it strikes the insect to kill it before devouring it. As its name implies, it prefers to hunt bees, but it also feeds on other insects such as fruit flies and grasshoppers.

Predators

Among its predators we can highlight snakes, and large birds of prey, although these small animals are good at defending and dodging their predators thanks to their good flight, they are not always successful.

Reproduction

Considered a monogamous bird, it usually lays a clutch of four to eight eggs between March and June, although some go until August.

The eggs are deposited in a chamber at the end of a tunnel. The nesting tunnel, dug by both the male and female, can be up to two meters in length and is dug in flat, bare ground or on a slightly sloping bank. The small nests are usually arranged in loose colonies of 10 to 30 pairs.

Like many other birds, the male and female take turns incubating the eggs during the two-week incubation period, and both adults also provide food for the young. In some parts of the range of this species, the nesting pair will enlist the help of one or more individuals to help feed the chicks and protect the nesting site. These "helper birds" are more common in times of drought, when food is scarce and the chances of helpers raising a young themselves are slim. Young birds usually hatch between 26 and 28 days after hatching.

State of conservation

This particular bird is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List, and therefore does not require human activity or interaction for its conservation and distribution. However, the number of bees, their main food source, is declining, which could pose problems in the future.

The little emerald bee-eater is also considered a pest by beekeepers in some parts of its range, and this could be of increasing importance to this species.

Relationship with humans

It is not a good idea to keep these animals as pets, nor to keep them caged, they are migratory birds wild and they need space to be able to live comfortably.

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