Bee-eater (Merops) in Palawan, Philippines
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Bee-eater (Merops) in Palawan, Philippines

Bee-eaters are species of birds that are migratory to the Philippines but major field guide on birds of the Philippines do not include them to be present in Palawan. Palawan is considered as the last ecological frontier of the Philippines.

During a visit to San Vicente, Palawan on March 1, 2011 for a survey on native chickens, I chanced upon a pair of bee-eater doing acrobatic pursuits to catch their insect meals. Aside from their flight movement, I was able to recognize them by the straight slender extension of their tails, their black pointed but slightly curved slender bills and their plumage of greenish-blue. Although their chirping was the one that caught my attention and made me look into their direction. I was able to take a photograph of these birds (see photograph below) and from my initial observation and evaluation I could say that these are Blue-tailed Bee-eaters.

Watching these birds while sipping a cup of hot choco brought relaxation to my tired body from the several days of conducting my survey in the remote and rural areas. As I enjoy, it made me realize that bee-eaters are not mentioned to be present in Palawan by several books and major field guides on birds of the Philippines. However, one particular field guide on the birds of Rasa Island, Narra, Palawan did included the Blue-throated Bee-eater in their list of 104 bird species so far recorded in the said island as of December 2004. It made me realize that observations made by local birders are important in providing additional information to available documents. Somehow, I felt a sense of pride.

Species of Bee-eaters in the Philippines

According to major field guides, there are two species of bee-eaters found in the Philippines – the Blue-throated Bee-eater (Merops viridis) and the Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus). The flight, sound and plumage of these two species are almost identical. However, the bluish color around the throat of the Blue-throated Bee-eater is lacking in the Blue-tailed Bee-eater while the blue tail of the latter species is absent in Blue-throated Bee-eater. The photographs below which were searched and copied from the internet show the differences – the one at the left is the Blue-throated Bee-eater which has a distinct chestnut head while the one at the right is the Blue-tailed Bee-eater.

  These birds are generally migratory and visit the Philippines to breed and nest.

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Comments (1)

is there any programs or initiatives being taken to take care of these birds while they're in palawan?