A Dandy Little Flyer

Shot of the Month – June 2016

Little Bee-Eater (0018)

Click on the photo so see it larger

This month we get a lovely rector-verso view of the Little Bee-eater (LBE) – a dandy little bird in every sense.

Dandy:  “…is a man who places particular importance upon physical appearance, refined language, and leisurely hobbies….”(from late 18th and 19th century Britain)

The LBE is definitely a stunner — both male and female (as seen in this photo) are adorned in a shimmering coat of green, yellow throat, offset with a black gorget, a luxurious rich brown upper breast that fades into a buffish ocre on the belly.  And that daring dash of aqua (?) above the eyes.  Bold and beautiful.

As for the leisurely hobbies – seems that LBEs spend about 10% of their time engaged in “comfort activities.”  This would include sunning themselves, dust bathing, and water bathing.  Dust bathing?–yeah, it helps protect against parasites likes mites and flies. (source)

Dandy: “an excellent thing of its kind”

Like the title says, Little Bee-eaters are dandy flyers.  Little Bee-eaters catch of all their prey while on the wing.  If an insect lands on the ground the bird is no longer interested.  As their name gives away, LBE’s eat mainly bees, wasps, dragon flies, and similar insects.  These birds typically hunt from a favorite perch – once a flying insect is spotted, the bird launches into the air, snatches the insect with that powerful, forceps-like beak and dines while flying or returns to the perch.  Insects with stingers (da-bees) are thrashed against a tree branch as the LBE pinches tightly on the insect to squeeze out all the venom. (source)

I photographed this couple in Botswana.  I also photographed a Blue-cheeked bee-eater in Botswana and you can see some of that dining-at-the-perch behavior here. (you really should, it is a great shot if I say so myself)

LBE Distribution

Little Bee-eater Range

The Little Bee-eater is indeed little.  There are 26 species of bee-eaters in the world and the LBE is the tiniest of them all.  What they lack in size the make up in numbers.  It is estimated that there are 60 to 80 million Little Bee-eaters spread out across Africa.   The bee community must be very bummed about that fact!

Ahhh, the lovely little bee-eater, beautiful but deadly, especially if you are a bee.

Until next month….:-)


Nikon D70, Sigma 300-800mm (@650mm), 1/400 s, f/5.6,