Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Blue-cheeked Bee-Eater in Liberia!

Length: 24-26 cm (9.5-10.0") + streamers up to 10.5 cm (4.0").
. The Blue-cheeked Bee-Eater (Merops persicus) is an intra-African and palearctic migrant visitor (Dec-July) to coastal regions of Liberia (particularly from Monrovia westward). Most do not breed in Liberia. I found this species at several locations north of Monrovia between Fendel and Bentol; this individual was digiscoped at Bentol (Jan 20/09). The blue cheeks are barely visible and, like most of the other individuals I saw on my short January visit to Liberia, it lacks the long central tail streamers generally characteristic of this species. Perhaps the streamers tend to grow later in the dry season, just before the birds return northward to their desert-edge breeding grounds in Mauritania and elsewhere. However...
.I found this Blue-cheeked Bee-Eater 5 days earlier, further "doun the coast" at Buchanan (Jan 15/09). Though it was a considerable distance from me, on a power line over rank marshy vegetation, this digiscoped shot clearly shows the field characteristics, including the long central tail feathers!

In this photo taken at Bentol (Jan 20/09), the blue feathers--both above the eye and on the cheek below the eye--can be seen more clearly.

3 comments:

  1. That is a seriously beautiful bird. Love it.

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  2. I think I like the white throated one best. It has so many colors on it! But the blue cheeked and black bee eaters look alike in body shape and stature; the white throated one looks shorter and fatter, but they do seem to have the same tail feathers. Is that true, or is it just the picture?

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  3. Thanks, Jennifer and Andrea!

    In bee-eaters, many of the subtle colors are due to refraction (as well as reflection) of light! The White-throated Bee-Eater grows tail streamers which are even longer than those of the Blue-cheeked Bee-Eater! The Black Bee-Eater and the Little Bee-Eater (which I hope to blog soon) do not have tail streamers.

    Interesting that you should mention "bird size", which I agree is often difficult to estimate from a photo! I was thinking just yesterday that I should probably be including "bird length" with each species that I post! The Blue-cheeked is considerably larger than the other bee-eater species occurring in Liberia. Check my posts again; I will try to "edit in" bird lengths.

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