Northern carmine and European bee-eaters in Mkomazi National Park, Tanzania
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The buzz about bee-eaters
With their striking plumage, tail feathers and long down-curved bills, you can see why bee-eaters are considered among the most beautiful of birds. This group, perching in Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania, is mostly made up of the northern carmine variety, which have blue-green heads and red bodies. A few European bee-eaters have joined them, adding a bit of contrast to the colour scheme.
There are about 25 species of bee-eaters that live throughout tropical and subtropical parts of Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, with males and females sporting those jewel-toned feathers. These birds live in large colonies, often burrowing into sandy cliffs along a riverbank.
As the name suggests they love to eat bees, as well as other flying insects, which they catch in a mid-air swoop. They bash their prey against a branch to remove venom, if they have a poisonous sting. And these carmines are also known to ride on the backs of large birds and mammals, catching insects that fly up as the creature ambles across the savanna.