Breeding biology of the Small Bee-eater Merops orientalis (Latham, 1801) in Nagapattinam District, Tamil Nadu, India

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S. Asokan
A.M.S. Ali
R. Manikannan


The breeding biology of Small Bee-eater Merops orientalis was studied in Nagapattinam District of Mannampandal, Tamil Nadu, India between 2005 and 2006. A total of 34 nests were studied and the bee-eaters were found to excavate long tunnels ranging in length from 79 to 125cm (104.9±123.48 cm) and ending in widened egg chambers. The mean diameter and circumference of the entrance hole opening was 8.94±1.03 cm and 26.9±3.55 cm respectively. They excavated nest holes at a mean height of 52.1±2.69 cm from the bottom and 158.7±4.11 cm from the top of sandy river banks. The clutch size varied from 3 to 6 with a mean of 3.5±0.88 and clutches of three were very common. The egg dimensions ranged between 23.0 x 20.0 mm and 18.0 x 14.0 mm. The weight of the eggs varied between 2.0 and 5.0 g (3.3±0.65 g). The mean incubation period of the Small Bee-eater was 14.4±1.01 days and both sexes took part in the incubation. The Small Bee-eater laid 56 eggs, of which 43 hatched (76.7%) and 36 flewout of the nest, making the fledgingsuccess 83.7%. The newly hatched nestlings were 3.16 g in weight and reached a maximum of 23.16 g on day 24. A reduction in weight was noticed in the last few days and 20.75g was reached on day 27. The other body parts attained maximum maturity from hatching to fledging.

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How to Cite
Asokan, S., Ali, A. and Manikannan, R. 2010. Breeding biology of the Small Bee-eater Merops orientalis (Latham, 1801) in Nagapattinam District, Tamil Nadu, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 2, 4 (Apr. 2010), 797–804. DOI:
Author Biographies

S. Asokan

Dr. S. Asokan is currently teaching students, undertaking and supervising various research activities. He has produced seven PhD and 40 MPhil students in various field of Wildlife Biology and Zoology. He has published more than 35 research papers in leading national and international journals.

A.M.S. Ali

A. MohAMeD SAMSoor Ali obtained his MSc degree in Wildlife Biology from AVC College, Mannampandal in 2003 and has been working on various fields of Ornithology since 2004.

R. Manikannan

r. MAnikAnnAn is working on diversity of wetland birds in Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary for a PhD degree.