The blue-throated bee-eater

Writer: Isaac Cohen  |  Editor: Liu Minxia  |  From: Shenzhen Daily

A close-up photo of a blue-throated bee-eater in Huanggang Park in Futian District. Isaac Cohen

Everyone’s going crazy about these little guys in October 2021. Well, this is a completely justified reaction, for this species is fascinating!


The blue-throated bee-eater (Merops viridis) is about 20 centimeters long with a striking blue feathered tail and astonishing plumage that mixes blue, green, brown and red. The colors change with every move of its head, breast, back and tail. Males and females are similar but it’s easy to tell them apart by a stronger coloration on the males.   


A couple of blue-throated bee-eaters perch on a tree branch in Huanggang Park in Futian District. 

Their behavior is fascinating. Their calls, alarm calls or reproductive calls, vary frequently depending on the situation. Their mating is also amazing to witness, as the male slowly approaches and positions towards the female who stretches its body and points its beak to the sky.


A blue-throated bee eater perches on a tree branch with its prey in Huanggang Park in Futian District.

When looking for food, you'll see them moving their heads on a constant motion following the course of the insects around, followed by a short flight that ends up in a ridiculously accurate catch of their prey, that usually includes bees, of course, wasps, dragonflies, flies or beetles.


The blue-throated bee-eater’s breeding season is as fascinating as every single thing about this species. The eggs will hatch at different moments during a period of approximately 10 days, the first born being the biggest one and the last born the smallest with less chance to survive, oftentimes killed by its siblings.


A blue-throated bee eater perches on a tree branch in Huanggang Park in Futian District.

The blue-throated bee-eater is one of dozens of species that will visit our city in the coming months now that the migration season has started. It’s our responsibility to protect the venues they’re visiting and try not to disturb their environment so that they can enjoy our beautiful city and the many places it has to offer to a wide variety of animals.