Blue-tailed bee-eater spotted in Naha

Blue-tailed bee-eater spotted in Naha

The first Blue-tailed bee-eater identified in Japan. (Photograph taken by Isamu Uehara)

May 14, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

A blue-tailed bee-eater that breeds in Southeast Asia has been spotted at a park in Naha. The sighting was made by bird watcher Akira Nakamura on April 26. According to Kenji Takehara, a member of the Okinawa Wild Bird Research group, it is the first confirmed sighting of a blue-tailed bee-eater in Japan. A bird belonging to a different family of bee-eaters was found on Miyako Island in July, 1904, which until now was the only record of a bee-eater in Japan.

Nakamura found the bee-eater while bird watching with friends. They had to check in a bird guide published overseas to confirm that the sighted bird was in fact a blue-tailed bee-eater. Nakamura said the bird flew like a swallow and caught a bee in mid-air. Then it went back to a tree where it hit the bee’s head on a branch to stun it. The bird also rubbed the bee against a branch to remove its sting, before swallowing the insect. The bird repeated the action many times.

This bee-eater has one partially chafed tail feather. Adult blue-tailed bee-eaters have two thin tail feathers, a body length of about 28 centimeters, and mostly prey on bees.

(English translation by T&CT, Hitomi Shinzato)

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