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Blue-bearded bee-eater, Nyctyornis athertoni

The Blue-bearded Bee-eater (Nyctyornis athertoni) is a large species of bee-eater found in much of the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. This species is found in forest clearings. It is found in the Malayan region and also extends into the Western Ghats in southwestern India.

The blue feathers of its throat are elongated and often fluffed giving it its name. They are not as gregarious or active as the smaller bee-eaters, and their square ended tail lacks the typical "wires" made up of the shafts of the longer central tail feathers in many species.

Distribution and habitat
This species is found in a variety of habitats mostly at medium altitudes but below 2000m altitude. Thin to fairly thick forest in medium elevations with clearings is the typical habitat. It is found singly or in small groups of up to three and is very patchily distributed. Their presence in an area can easily be missed.

It has been reported from the hill regions of the Satpuras, Western Ghats, Eastern Ghats, Nilgiris, Chota Nagpur and from the Sub-Himalayan forests.

Blue-bearded bee-eater, Nyctyornis athertoni
Distribution of the Blue-bearded bee-eater

This large bee-eater has a large sickle shaped bill and the square ended tail lacks the "wires" that are typical of smaller bee-eaters. The bird is grass green with a turquoise forehead, face and chin. The feathers of the throat are elongated giving it a bearded appearance when they are fluffed out. The belly is yellowish to olive with streaks of green or blue.

The peninsular Indian populations are said to be paler green than the northeast Indian populations. Although males and females appear similar, the blue throat feathers of the male show higher ultraviolet reflectivity than those of the female.

The species is named after Lieut. John Atherton (13th Light Dragoons, died in 1827) a nephew of Mrs. P. J. Selby who obtained a specimen of the bird. Selby described the species in "Illustrations of Ornithology" published along with Sir William Jardine in 1828.

Jardine and Selby described it in the Illustrations of Ornithology (Series 1, Volume 2 part 4, November 1828, plate 58) and the type locality (holotype is in the Selby Collection, UMZC, 25/Mer/7/b/2) was said to be Cachar District Assam by E. C. Stuart Baker but Sir N B Kinnear re-designated Bangalore as the type locality for the species based on the fact that Atherton was posted in Bangalore when he wrote to Selby and noted that he was helped by a French collector (thought to be Leschenault). However the species is rare in that region.

The nominate form is found in India and parts of mainland Southeast Asia while brevicaudatus is an insular population from Hainan. A subspecies bartletti from northeastern India described by W. N. Koelz is subsumed into the nominate population.

Behaviour and ecology
This bird has a loud call, but does not call frequently. It is also not as active as the smaller bee-eaters. The calls include cackling hornbill like calls, a dry "Kit-tik... Kit-tik" in a series or hollow nasal "kyao" calls. Pairs may engage in duets of cackling and rattling which ends in short purring notes. The flight is undulating and very barbet-like.

The breeding season is February to August in India and courtship involves ritual feeding, bowing and tail fanning. Nest excavation may begin a month before the laying of eggs. The nest is a deep tunnel in a mud bank within which four very spherical and white eggs are laid.

The species appears to feed mainly on bees. It exploits the defensive behavior of Giant honey bee (Apis dorsata) colonies by provoking the mass release of guard bees which are then caught and eaten as they pursue the bird. Although mainly foraging using aerial sallies, it is known to glean from bark.

They may sometimes associate with mixed-species foraging flocks. Birds have been seen at flowers of Erythrina and Salmalia although it is unclear whether they fed on nectar or insects attracted to the flowers.

A blood parasite Leucocytozoon nyctyornis has been described from this species and feather parasites Brueelia are also known.

Listen to the Blue-bearded Bee-eater

Conservation status
Blue-bearded bee-eater, Nyctyornis athertoni
Least Concern(IUCN 3.1)
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2.
International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sighted: (Date of first photo that I could use) 25 January 2016
Location: Tala Zone, Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve

PLEASE! As I'm a first time birdwatcher bear in mind that some of the bird can be wrongly named. I have bought books and I confirm on the internet to get the right identity on the birds I take pictures off. But there can still be mistakes.

I have had most help from my friend, the bird pal I met at Suan Rot Fai. Sending pictures of birds I have not been able to identify to him via Line. 3 minutes later he and he have managed to identify most of the birds I have had problems with. THANKS! Visit his web page m☥lever for his beautiful pictures.

And my new aid, maybe, and I say maybe the best aid. I brought my mobile phone as my SIM card have stopped working and I tried to get it to work again so I can use the internet. Thus I had my phone in my pocket on my first game drive in Jim Corbett National Park.

We saw a bird and I asked my Guide and the driver if they had a pen and a paper as I had forgot my pen and paper in my room. I remembered my LG phone and I recorded the name. And thus I will always bring my phone. Writing the name in the car and I have found more than once that it can be hard to read what I had wrote when I'm back in my room.

So now I always have my mobile in my pocket and it has been a great help. And from November 2018 I use eBird. Bird watching in U.A.E and Oman and my guide in Dubai recommended eBird and I have used the app since then and I note every bird I can identify in my eBird app.

Blue-bearded bee-eater, Nyctyornis athertoni
Picture will be added as soon as I get a good picture

PLEASE! If I have made any mistakes identifying any bird, PLEASE let me know on my guestbook



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