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Bee-eaters and their courtship rituals
Bee-eaters, photograph 1
Bee-eaters, which mainly inhabit southern Europe, are incredibly beautiful birds. In Greece, they can be seen in great numbers during the breeding season, chiefly in the region of the Evros Delta National Park in the north of the country. Here’s a brief account of a pair of bee-eaters’ courtship behaviour from there.
“Once, at the beginning of May, I was lucky enough to watch the courtship of a pair of these charming birds. It was like this: two bee-eaters sat on a branch at some distance from each other. Initially they seemed to be ignoring one another – their heads were turned away (photograph 1). A short while later one of the birds became interested and turned its head towards the other one. Shortly after that, mutual interest grew, the bee-eaters moved closer together and began mutual preening (photograph 2). The magic was soon gone though, as they turned their heads away again and flew off. The courtship was over and the empty branch swayed for a moment after they had left...”
Bee-eaters, photograph 2
Information and photographs Eva Stets, member of OTOP (Polish Society for the Protection of Birds) and HOS (Partner BirdLife in Greece)