Colourful bee-eater

Rainbow Bee-eaters are found throughout the majority of Australia.

Birds in our World with Keith Ireland

When someone is talking about rainbows, we automatically think of bright and beautiful colours. When Rainbow Birds are in a conversation, colour also comes to mind. The strongest colour for these birds is generally green or blue, but with other bright colours like yellow and some red as well as red eyes. Two long feathers extend down from the tail.

The official name is actually Rainbow Bee-eaters and as the name would indicate, they would not be popular with apiarists who are trying to increase the size of their Bee Hives, not have them decimated.

These birds are found throughout the majority of Australia. Coastal areas are well inhabited. Here there are many soft soil or sandy areas where they can dig into the soil or firm banks, making a tunnel with a chamber at the end, in which they can lay their eggs and raise their young.

I have photographed a number of Rainbow Bee-eaters in different locations. One of the most interesting was when a pair dug out their burrow on a cricket ground about 15 to 20 metres from the wicket. This was in the bush and matches were played there on weekends.

One of the local players rang to tell me about it and told me it was easy to find being at square leg.

When I went there, I thought the only way that I could get close enough for a good shot, would be to set up a hide. I realised that the cricketers would not be happy to see my hide in the middle of the playing area.

After checking with the local team captain, I was pleased to find out that the team had away games over the following two weeks.

Once I was set up, and sitting inside of the hide, the birds took no further notice and I was able to get some lovely shots.