1526. Merops supereiliosus javanicus

(1526) Merops superciliosus javanicus Horsf.
THE JAVAN BLUE-TAILED BEE-EATER.
Merops superciliosus javanicus, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iv, p. 237.
The typical form of this Bee-eater, which was described from Java, is found and is resident over practically the whole of India except the extreme North-West in Sind, Rajputana and the Punjab. It is also found over the whole of Burma, Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo and Java. It occurs in Ceylon, but according to Wait does not breed there.
This Bee-eater has very curious local movements before and after the breeding season, though the birds are nowhere truly migratory. Thus Betham says that round Ferozepore they arrive in hundreds and thousands during May, and great numbers breed in the mud forts, but that when the breeding season is over they depart. In Bihar the birds are always to be met with, but in the breeding season seem to collect in certain areas and to avoid others. In Lahore, Marshall (C. H. T.) says that the birds are very common in the station during the breeding season but that after it very few remain.
This bird always, I think, breeds in colonies, sometimes of very great size. Betham says that they breed in hundreds in the mud walls of the Ferozepore fort. Primrose, Inglis, and I all found them breeding in very large as well as in small colonies in Cachar and Sylhet, and Coltart and Inglis in Bihar found colonies from about a dozen pairs to a hundred or more. In Burma Oates, Bingham, Harington and many others saw vast colonies breeding on the bigger rivers, often in company with Mynas, just as in India colonies of these birds are sometimes found mixed up with colonies of Bank Mynas.
They breed in all the various types of places selected by other Bee-eaters, but undoubtedly keep more to the banks of larger rivers. The nesting-tunnels vary in length, as do those of the rest of the family, but are longer in proportion. When dug in the soft sandy river-banks they are often 6 and 7 feet deep, the tunnels about 3 inches in diameter and the chambers about 8 inches long and 5 high. Even in the hard mud walls of the Forozepore fort Betham says the nests are deep, mostly 4 or 5 feet.
The birds breed principally in April, a good many in May and a few in June and March.
The usual full clutch of eggs is six, though sevens and fives are not exceptional. I have never seen less than five hard set.
One hundred eggs average 23.2 x 20.1 mm. : maxima 25.1 x 19.6 and 22.5 x 21.3 mm, ; minima 22.0 x 19.5 and 23.8 x 18.2 mm.
Both birds assist in making the tunnel and chamber for the eggs and both incubate, the two sexes often sleeping together in the nest-hole.
Nunn’s description of the nest of "fine grass and feathers” is probably due to a Bee-eater having taken the burrow of a Bank Myna, though I have never heard of another such instance. The birds, of course, make no nest, laying their eggs on the bare soil or sand.
The young birds in a neat often appear to vary much in age, owing to incubation being started when the first egg is laid.
The birds often return to their old nests, and I have seen one instance in which the whole colony seemed to be using their old nesting-chambers, as in each one opened there was a quantity of insect remains from the previous year.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 3. 1934.
Title in Book: 
1526. Merops supereiliosus javanicus
Spp Author: 
Horsf.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
1526
Year: 
1934
Page No: 
397
Common name: 
Javan Blue Tailed Bee Eater
M_ID: 
9518
M_SN: 
Merops philippinus javanicus
Volume: 
Vol. 3
Term name: 
id: 
14667

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