The Rainbow Bee Eater is an extremely colourful bird. They have very distinctive long tail feathers. Sporting colours of green, black, yellow and orange on its body and deep violet on its tail it’s certainly a very attractive bird.
The Rainbow Bee Eaters are found in the Southern States during the summer months, but migrate north during winter. They are reasonably common in woodlands and even parks and private gardens. They nest in the ground between November and January in the south. They are believed to mate for life. The female digs the nest and the male feeds her while she is doing this. Apparently, she digs about 75mm a day by balancing on her wings and feet and using her beak to dig.
Like all bee-eaters, rainbow bee-eaters are very social birds. When they are not breeding they roost together in large groups in dense undergrowth or large trees.
The rainbow bee-eater makes a series of loud, melodious “pir-r-r” calls, characterized by rapid vibrating and high pitch, usually in flight. A softer, slower call is exchanged between perching birds.
Rainbow bee-eaters mostly eat flying insects, but, as their name implies, they have a real taste for bees. Rainbow bee-eaters are always watching for flying insects, and can spot a potential meal up to 45 metres away. Once it spots an insect a bee-eater will swoop down from its perch and catch it in its long, slender, black bill and fly back to its perch. Bee-eaters will then knock their prey against their perch to subdue it. Even though rainbow bee-eaters are actually immune to the stings of bees and wasps, upon capturing a bee they will rub the insect’s stinger against their perch to remove it, closing their eyes to avoid being squirted with poison from the ruptured poison sac. Bee-eaters can eat several hundred bees a day, so they are obviously resented by beekeepers, but their damage is generally balanced by their role in keeping pest insects such as locusts and hornets under control.