Red-bearded Bee-eater Plumage

At Panti Forest on March 2, we observed a family of Red-bearded Bee-eaters who were very vocal and conspicuous.

While it wasn’t possible to photograph them all together we did get some photos of a few individuals that showed a bit of an unexpected plumage.  Upon reflection surely this is a sub adult plumage as there still are some patches of green in the red beard.  Note that when the bird has just fledged it is all green and the coloration takes time to develop.

Red-bearded Bee-eater (female sub adult)

Fully adult plumage doesn’t show any green in the red beard.  These individuals are coming up to around 10 months of age.  Altogether there were five bee-eaters which makes sense since a full clutch is three so a full family unit is five.  It was interesting that these subadults were still around their parents as breeding season is starting and the adults should be laying eggs soon.  Besides vocalization there was a lot of tail wagging and one midair fight.  It must be time for the adults to encourage the nearly year old birds to go off on their own so the new breeding cycle can begin.

Red-bearded Bee-eater (male sub adult)

I think it should be safe to assume these subadult birds will not breed this year but only during their second season.  But the plumage has developed well enough to be able to observe the sex of the birds in the field.  Here’s a link to some more photos of this species:  Red-bearded Bee-Eater photo gallery

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