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Woorim Surf Club - Home to Rainbow Bee-eaters

By staff writer Mozza

The view on the balcony at the Woorim Surf Club is spectacular in normal times, with the ocean and Moreton Island across the bay with its shipping and boating, dolphins and the odd whale to keep you fascinated while having a coldie.

Lately though, the club has played host to random wildlife such as wallabies and recently three Rainbow bee-eaters nesting in the dune directly in front of the club and sitting on the fence to the beach.

Rainbow bee-eaters are brilliantly coloured birds that grow to be 23–28cm in length, including the elongated tail feathers. The upper back and wings are green in colour, and the lower back and under-tail coverts are bright blue. The undersides of the wings and primary flight feathers are rufous to copper with green edges and tipped with black, and the tail is black to deep violet.

Rainbow bee-eaters are a common species and can be found during the summer in forested areas in most of southern Australia, excluding Tasmania. They migrate north during the winter into northern Australia, including here at Bribie Island.

Rainbow bee-eaters are ground nesting birds, like all bee-eaters. They are believed to mate for life. The male will bring the female insects while she digs the burrow that will be their nest.

The bee-eater digs its burrow by balancing on its wings and feet, and digs with its bill, then pushing loose soil backwards with its feet while balancing on its bill. The female bee-eater can dig about three inches down every day.

The nest tunnel is very narrow, and the birds' bodies press so tightly against the tunnel walls that when the birds enter and exit their movement acts like a piston, pumping in fresh air and pushing out stale air. Rainbow bee-eaters have also been known to share their nest tunnels with other bee-eaters and sometimes even other species of birds.

The female lays between three and seven rounded, translucent white eggs, measuring 24 x 18mm, which are incubated for about 21 to 24 days until hatching. The young bee-eaters fledge after 28 to 31 days and are fed by both parents, as well as by any other members of the communal group.

So next time you drop in for lunch or a drink, impress your guests with your knowledge of the Rainbow Bee-eater and keep an eye out for them as the answer to a local clue in our upcoming Bribie Crosswords in the puzzle section of the paper.

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