Rainbow Bee-Eater

Rainbow Bee-eater

Merops ornatus

Noongar Whadjuk: birin-birin

As in the name, the Rainbow Bee-eater is a beautiful bird with the ability to catch bees on the wing without being stung. They knock the sting from the bee on a branch, then consume it. The bird often sits on a good vantage point to better see flying insects. Their chirruping voice is a distinct sound of summer. The male can be identified by its longer thin streaming tail feathers.

The Rainbow Bee-eater is in Jirdarup only in the summer to breed in nesting hollows, dug on a sloping angle into the ground. These can be up to a metre deep in the sand. They then migrate for the winter as far as the Kimberley and even further north.

Their conservation status as a migratory bird was removed in 2016. Read more here.

The sandpit and other sand mounds have attracted Rainbow Bee-eaters to Jirdarup and quite a few burrows have been observed. This makes Jirdarup very important for the conservation of this bird. Cats are especially dangerous to birds that nest on the ground. Keep your cat indoors at night and do not let it roam during the day.

According to one source, Kellerberrin gets its name from the Rainbow Bee-eater. ‘Kalla’ means camping place in Noongar and ‘birin-birin’ is the bird.

Listen to the Rainbow Bee-eater here.

(Sound with permission from graemechapman.com.au .)