In a recent trip to the Restorasi Ekosistem Riau site in Kampar Peninsula, Prayitno Goenarto of RER took stock on some of the bird varieties at the location.

This is the Blue-tailed Bee-eater, one of the 26 bee-eater species in the world and one of the three bee-eater species that can be found in Riau, Sumatra.

A Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus) diligently scans the surrounding area for any nearby flying insects. 
Photo credit: Prayitno Goenarto -- Restorasi Ekosistem Riau (RER) 

Restorasi Ekosistem Riau (RER) was established by APRIL Group in 2013 to protect and restore 150,000 hectare of ecologically important peatland area on the Kampar Peninsula under eco-restoration licenses granted by the Indonesian government.

The Kampar Peninsula landscape is one of the largest peatland areas in Southeast Asia and is under threat of illegal encroachment by way of slash and burn. RER's work on Kampar is to support the habitat of the area's endemic species including the Sumatran tiger, flat-headed cat, sun bear and more.

Characterized by a strong black eye stripe, a vibrant orange throat and a combination of blue and green on its back, the blue-tailed bee eater’s feathers easily encompasses a vast spectrum of colors. Its pointed wings and a slightly curved down-turned bill supports its primarily insectivorous diet.

Their preference towards habitats near open water sources may suggest that RER’s water level management may play a role in maintaining the conditions of its preferred habitat.

Despite its name, bee-eaters consumes a wide variety of insects including dragonflies.  Blue-tailed bee-eaters often perch on extended branches where they survey and scan the open air for passing insects which they catch midair.

Interestingly, when a prey item with a stinger such as a bee is encountered, the bird will first smash it against a hard surface until the stinger is removed.

Blue-tailed Bee-eaters are assigned an IUCN Status of Least Concerned (LC). The reasons behind its LC category include its extensive range which spans 19 countries including much of South Eastern Asia.

Bee eaters are gregarious and often form communal tunnels of nests on the banks of rivers or near open flat land (Yuan et al. 2006). 

References:
• SIEFFERMAN, L., WANG, Y-J., WANG, Y-P., and YUAN, H-W. 2007. Sexual dichromatism, dimorphism and condition-dependent coloration in blue-tailed bee-eaters. The Condor, 109(3), 577-584.
• YUAN, H-W., BURT, D.B., WANG, L-P., CHANG, W-L., WANG, M-K., CHIOU, C-R., and DING, T-S. 2006. Colony site choice of blue-tailed bee eaters: influences of soil, vegetation and water quality. Journal of Natural History, 40 (7), 485-493