It seems quite odd that once you take notice of something, one tends to see it everywhere. This is currently the case for me. Over the past few weeks I have most certainly noticed a splash of green and yellow around every corner.
With the dry winter bushveld reaching its peak, it is quite hard not to notice these vibrant colours around. These lively colours belong to a bird called a Little Bee-eater (Merops pusillus). They are known to be the world’s smallest bee-eaters. They only reach a size of around 16cm and weigh in at a mere 15 grams.
There are two things that always catch my eye when these Little Bee-eaters are around. I love the shape of their wings while they are in flight. They have really sharp angled triangular wings that resemble fighter jets as they cut through the air. The second thing I look out for is their tendency to return to a specific perch. This of course makes photographing these little birds easier.
What makes watching them returning to their perches so fascinating is their feeding habits. Little Bee-eaters hunt flying insects taken on the wing, mostly being bees and wasps. They often hunt from a low perch, swooping into an open area to catch insects, gliding back to perch once more. The caught insect is often beaten before swallowed. If the insect has a stinger, the stinger is scraped on the perch. Once the stinger is dislodged and the venom is discharged, the insect is flipped into the air and swallowed head first.
Have you ever noticed these cute Little Bee-eaters while out on a bush adventure?