Bird of the month – Rainbow Bee-Eater

Keep an eye out for the colourful rainbow bee-eater - image credit Melissa Marie

Keep an eye out for the colourful rainbow bee-eater – image credit Melissa Marie

Melissa Marie

No bird could seem more at home on the Cooloola Coast than the rainbow bee-eater, our Rainbow Beach Cooloola Coast Community News bird of the month for October.

Like a moving water-colour painting, the rainbow bee-eater (Merops ornatus) grows to be 23–28 cm in length and can be identified not only by its vivid spectrum of colours, but also by a distinctive, repetitive “prr-prr” call.

They really make the most of nature’s paint palette available to them, with the undersides of the wings and primary flight feathers rufous to copper with green edges and tipped with black, and a black to deep violet tail. To top it off, they sport a very cool black Zorro mask, for that extra dash of style.

Romantics at heart, they are believed to mate for life, with the two central tail feathers longer in the male rainbow bee-eaters than in the females. The attentive father-to-be will bring the female insects while she digs the burrow that will become their nest.

And yes, they both love to eat bees!

For those keen to spot a rainbow bee-eater, they are regularly seen frequenting our beautiful region, even right in the heart of Rainbow Beach village.

The world-wide citizen-science website e-Bird ( also has records of them being sited along Carlo Road and at our beautiful Carlo Sandblow.

Look up – that flash of brilliance darting and dancing across the blue canvas of the sky may be a bee-eater!

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