European Bee-eaters

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A dragonfly has no stinger, but a European bee-eater, Merops apiaster, will beat it senseless anyway, the same way it handles its namesake prey. If the fly’s wings break off, they are discarded, not eaten. The insect is then devoured as a single morsel, not as a mini-buffet of bite-size bits.
Image: Jözsef L. Szentpéteri/National Geographic online. [larger view].

I mentioned this last week, but I think it deserves a second mention: My contact, an editor at National Geographic, just sent me a link to a story and photoessay that details the courtship and breeding of European Bee-eaters, Merops apiaster. The story is fascinating and well-worth reading and the photographs, as always for National Geographic, brings tears of wonder to one’s eyes.

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About GrrlScientist

grrlscientist is the pseudonym of an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist who writes about evolution, ethology, and ecology, especially in birds. After earning a degree in microbiology (thesis focus: virology) and working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, she earned her PhD in zoology from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she studied the molecular correlates of testosterone and behaviour in white-crowned sparrows. She then worked a Chapman Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where she studied the speciation and distribution of lories and other parrots throughout the South Pacific Islands. A discarded scientist, she returned to her roots: writing. Formerly hosted by The Guardian (UK), she now writes about science for Forbes and for the non-profit think tank, the Evolution Institute and she writes podcasts for BirdNote Radio. An avid lifelong birder and aviculturist, she lives with a flock of songbirds and parrots somewhere in Germany.
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0 Responses to European Bee-eaters

  1. sara says:

    Is it known whether or not these birds are afflicted by milkweed toxins (as are Blue Jays, for example)? And if so, how do Bee-eaters handle this problem?