Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bee-eaters in Penang

There are four species of Bee-eaters in Malaysia and three are common in Penang, a resident Chestnut-headed Bee-eater (Merops leschenaulti), and two migratory species, namely the Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus) and Blue-throated Bee-eater (Merops viridis).

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, the icon bird of Penang, is the most common resident species in the state, it can be sighted in Penang Botanic Gardens, Kek Lok Si Temple and many forested areas in Penang island. It has chestnut head, pale yellow throat, and tail without elongated central feathers.
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater in Penang

Blue-tailed Bee-eater is the most common migratory bee-eater in Penang, and usually appear in Penang from  August until March, approximately. The bird can be spotted in the open areas and paddy fields in Seberang Perai and Balik Pulau. It has very distinctive blue on its tail and eye brow, with bronze-green head. This species is also exist in Taiwan and the Philippines.
Blue-tailed Bee-eater in paddy field, Seberang Perai.

Blue-tailed Bee-eater is the only migratory bird which I can see through the windows from my bedroom. Last year, there were six of them visited my neighbourhood. I'm very grateful to have them as my "bio" alarm clock, I'm waiting for them to visit me again in this coming migratory bird season.
One of the Blue-tailed Bee-eaters on the Yagi-Uda Antenna

Blue-throated Bee-eaters usually appear in April until August, the period after the Blue-tailed Bee-eaters have migrated to the north. It has very distinctive blue on its throat and dark chestnut head.
Blue-throated Bee-eater in Bukit Juru

The popular spot for these migratory birds is in Bukit Juru, Juru. I hope that Bukit Juru will be protected and reserved as one of the green lungs in Seberang Perai.
Closer look of the bird and the dragonfly

Bee-eaters are the important indicator to the healthy environment and ecology, their food sources are mainly insects, which include the dragonflies, bees and wasps. In fact, these birds could not be sighted along the one of the filthiest rivers in Malaysia, the Sungai Pinang in Penang, it is because the river is unable to sustain any life form, including the dragonflies and other food sources for the birds. I wish the authority will be able to rehabilitate the river until it could sustain the life form that eventually attract the birds.

However, Penang will enforce a ban on polystyrene starting 1st of Jan 2011, and the usage of plastic bag will eventually be charged in every department store and shopping mall in the state. Click on this LINK to find out more on what can you help to stop or reduce the plastic pollution. No More Plastic Bags Please!

see... we still have turtle crossing our beach in Penang.

Let's help to save the habitats of these colorful birds by stop polluting our rivers and wetlands, and wish they will live and re-visit Penang forever. Click on this LINK if you would like to find out where to watch these birds in Penang. 

Happy birding.


  1. Hi,

    Would like to check with you if the chestnut-headed bee-eaters will be in Penang during Dec/Jan? I am planning to visit Penang this Christmas.


  2. CH Bee-eater is the resident in Penang, but Dec/Jan, the Blue-tailed will be here, so the CH may move away to forested area, you can find them in Penang Botanic Gardens.

  3. Hi,

    Just returned from Penang. Saw quite a number of CH bee-eaters at Kek Lok Si. Not much activity at Botanic Gardens though and no sign of blue-tailed. Thanks and nice blog! :)

  4. Yes, KLS is another spot for CH bee-eaters.