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Look out for nesting rainbow bee-eaters

Rainbow bee-eater
The Rainbow Bee-eater

Between September and January each year the Bundaberg Region becomes home to one of Australia’s most colourful birds, the rainbow bee-eater.

The species has a few unique qualities compared to other bird life, with the animals preferring to build their nests underground or in urban areas like footpaths, parks and reserves that are regularly used by people.

Bundaberg Regional Council is alerting the community of the rainbow bee-eater and has developed a fact sheet to increase awareness of these amazing birds.

Council's Operational Supervisor for Natural Resource Management Greg O'Neill said it was important to be aware of nesting activity.

“We have had a few instances where residents have reported concerns about nests being damaged inadvertently by cars parking on them or mowing over them and disturbing the nesting birds,” he said.

“We would like to make the community aware of exactly what to look out for when it comes to the beautiful rainbow bee-eater.”

Greg said a rainbow bee-eater's nest would resemble a tunnel-like structure on the ground, often in sandy locations such as coastal parks, farmland or open natural bushland areas.

“There will be a large hole in the ground or on a bank with a small mound of sand which indicates the entryway to the nest,” he said.

“This tunnel then branches off into separate chambers and is often filled with twigs, grass, leaves and more.”

rainbow bee-eater
A rainbow bee-eater at its nest. Photo: Lennox Head Landcare

How to help the rainbow bee-eater population

In order for the species to continue to thrive, Council is encouraging community members to report nest sightings and follow safety measures.

You can do this by:

  • Reporting nests that are located on Council land
  • Parking your car or other vehicle away from nests
  • Avoid digging or excavating near the nesting area
  • Avoid mowing over nesting areas
  • Keep your distance from nest sites
  • Keep dogs and pets away
  • Humanely dispose of cane toads
  • Plant natives to attract insects for rainbow bee-eaters to eat

How to identify a rainbow bee-eater

According to BirdLife, the rainbow bee-eater is a medium-sized bird that is easily identifiable from its bright colours, slim curved bill and long tail with distinctive streamers.

They have a golden crown and a red eye set in a wide black stripe from the base of the bill to the ears.

Females have shorter, thicker tail streamers than males, but are otherwise similar.

Young birds are duller and greener, lacking the black band on the chest and the long tail streamers.

You can find out more about the rainbow bee-eaters here.

Rainbow bee-eater
Rainbow Bee-eater being fed.

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