Environment

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The Birds of the Torre del Codina, Chapter 5: The Bee-eater

> Listen to the song of the bee-eater:

 

Now in the spring, when we go out into the street, we can hear the singing of bees in flight. For many, the bee-eater is the most exotic bird of the migrants that breed among us, as reflected in the extraordinary coloration of its plumage, typical of tropical birds.

 

Meeting of newly arrived bee-eaters from Africa
Meeting of newly arrived bee-eaters from Africa

 

Every spring, bees make a long journey thousands of milesfrom sub-Saharan Africa to breed in our home.

 

Bee-eater perched on a branch
Bee-eater perched on a branch

 

If we look up when we hear them, we will see them flying calmly while gliding, as if they were drawing waves in the sky. Its long, pointed beak stands out at the head of a slender, aerodynamic figure. It has a brown head with a black stripe around the eye, a yellow neck, a blue-green chest and brown and green wings.

 

Bee mating
Bee mating

 

It is a gregarious bird, which usually breeds and flies in groups. When they arrive from Africa,it is a spectacle to see them in groups doing the pre-mating, construction and adaptation of their nest.

 

Swarm of wasps
Swarm of wasps

 

Its scientific name is “Merops apiaster” (“Apiaster” in Latin is bee) and indicates the main feature of this bird which is to feed on bees, wasps and other flying insects. In Spanish it is called “abejarruco”, in English “bee-eater”, in German “bienenfresser”, in Basque “erl-txori”, in French “guêpier” or in Occitan “abelhòla”.

 

Bee at rest
Bee at rest

 

In our language alone, it is called in many different ways, but the most curious is the name “Canadian”. The bee-eater nests in two-meter-deep galleries, dug into the dirt slopes along roads or rivers.

 

Bees
Bees

 

When the main hydraulic infrastructures of our country were built in the pre-Pyrenees, it was the company “La Canadiense” / “La Canadenca” that did many of the works. Often, after work on roads, canals and reservoirs, beekeepers made their nests on the slopes where the work originated, so it was thought that these birds had been taken by the Canadian company.

 

Bee-eater in flight
Bee-eater in flight

 

The bee-eater has an extraordinary visual ability and is able to detect a wasp 20 meters away. They are placed on branches or in the threads of light. It is also very characteristic to see them with a bee or a wasp in its beak, from which they extract the sting.

 

Bee watching
Bee watching

 

In the Torre del Codina it is very easy to see and hear the bees from mid-morning to evening. The fact that the 10 hectares of wastelands and cropsin Torre del Codina are organic crops means that it has a biodiversity of flying insects, which attracts bee-eaters. There they find plenty of prey for food.

 

Flying bee
Flying bee

 

Jaume Ramon Solé.

Credits: Images owned by Jaume Ramon Solé – La Torre del Codina.

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