A pair copulating on the ground.

A pair copulating on the ground.
Species: Blue-cheeked Bee-eater   Merops persicus
Subspecies: persicus
Author: Hanne and Jens Eriksen
Added to IBC: 2 Aug 2012 - 10:40
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Altitude (m): 
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Published in HBW Volume 6 on page 315.
Original HBW caption:
The Blue-cheeked Bee-eater is monogamous, and may pair for life; certainly, throughout the year, pair members associate more with one another than with other flock members. As part of pair-bonding, the birds may wrestle with their bills locked; they also display with the wings raised at the carpal joint and the coppery undersurface on show. Preceded by a courtship-feeding ceremony or initiated by a soliciting call from the female, at a spot defended by the pair, mating takes place on a perch or on the ground. If on a perch, the male approaches his mate by side-stepping, before he mounts her, usually gripping feathers on the female’s head in his bill as they copulate. If the female is stretched across the perch, he must perform no mean acrobatic feat to maintain his balance, and only manages not to topple backwards by holding the wings spread wide and high above him and bearing down with the bill against his mate’s forehead. On the ground the whole operation looks less hazardous and infinitely more dignified! The female crouches low, in submissive posture and with her tail held sideways, while the male half-supports himself on his tail which he rests stiffly on the ground behind him. In the European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster), which shows similar sexual behaviour, the frequency of copulation may increase to up to 10 times a day until the clutch has been completed, when all mating ceases.

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Birds of South Asia
The Ripley Guide
The most complete and up-to-date guide to the birds of the region. Revised and updated with the newest findings on vocalizations and taxonomy, including several taxa newly recorded for the region, species whose voice was previously unknown, and additional newly recognised species. Species lists follow familiar Peters order except where changes are well-corroborated by recent research.


Hanne and Jens Eriksen, IBC1004739. Accessible at hbw.com/ibc/1004739.

Extended version
Hanne and Jens Eriksen, IBC1004739. Photo of Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Merops persicus at Bu Baqarah, Oman. Accessible at hbw.com/ibc/1004739.

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