Southern carmine bee-eaters are one of the favorite summer migrants which have arrived in the Linyanti at Kings Pool.
These bee-eaters follow a complex three stage migration on an annual basis. They migrate to suitable breeding grounds/nesting ranges at higher latitudes in summer and then back to the lower latitudes for our winter months. These birds are highly gregarious, forming huge breeding colonies and then splitting up into smaller colonies out of the breeding season. However, during the breeding season, they can form breeding colonies of up to 1500 birds plus. These colonies are usually formed in nesting holes along sand banks or on level ground.
At Kings Pool, a large flock has been returning to the same nesting site for a couple years now, whereby the colony nests on the ground in excavated holes. Each female bird will lie between 2-3 eggs, which hatch after an incubation period of around 23-31 days depending on climatic conditions. The chicks are born precocial and are not able to fend for themselves. For this reason, the nesting holes are excavated deep into the substrate, often reaching depths of three metres.
It is amazing to watch these birds feed, as they show off their aerial acrobatics while hawking insects on the wing. We have seen a number of these bee-eaters literally riding on the backs of kori bustards as they forage, stirring up insects in the process.