Harriet Smith Photography


"For The Love of Africa"

AFRICAN SAFARIS - Trips Of A Lifetime


Country               South Africa
Provinces            Mpumalanga and Limpopo
Location:             Kruger National Park
Camp                   Skukuza Rest Camp

This extraordinary picture shows a trio of spectacularly colored white-fronted bee-eaters launching into flight. These white-fronted bee-eaters are found near the river banks and gullies of wooded grassland and pastures of sub-equatorial Africa. Their diet consists of insects, mostly honey bees, caught either through rapid flight down from a low tree perch or during a slower hovering flight.  Foraging areas can be 2-4 miles from their colony site.

White-fronted bee-eaters live in a very complex society, nesting in colonies made up of family clans where non-breeding birds become helpers for their breeding relatives.  Breeding success for the bee eater is strongly influenced by family structure. At the start of a 6 to 8 week courtship, both birds are excluded by their families; as they form a pair-bond, with the female usually becomes accepted into the male's family group.  After mating, males spend most of day guarding their female from other males. Some 60% of breeding pairs have 1-5 helpers. Nests with helping birds have twice as much reproductive success.  White fronted bee-eaters incubation period is 20-21 days; clutch size ranging 2-5 eggs; nests with helpers having the most eggs. Chicks, weighing on average 1.7oz, are born blind and naked. Feather growth is completed at about 25 days. Adult plumage occurs at around 6 months. The young remain with parental group till about 9 months, then may pair into other social groups.


Bee-eater nests are only found dug into perpendicular cliffs,  usually containing 10-20 active nests but occasionally up to 150 nests with 450 birds can be in one grouping. 

Picture taken in Kruger National Park.  Harriet Smith All Rights Reserved.

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