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Common Name : Chestnut-headed Bee-eater     -       Scientific Name : Merops leschenaultia       -       Other Name : Bay-headed Bee-eater, Ket Penda Kuruminikurulla (S)
Manikkapola Uttu
Kumbuk Wila uda para sand patch
Kokkare Villu Weli Kanda

This is a breeding resident species. Other than in Sri Lanka it breeds from India east to Southeast Asia including Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The conservation status of the species under reference is regarded as “Least Concerned” (National Red List 2012).

Chestnut-headed Bee-eateris a species protected under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance as amended by Act No. 22 of 2009.

I have seen this species throughout the lowlands up to the mid hills except in the Mannar Island and the Jaffna peninsular. The highest altitude at which I have seen it so far has been at Bandarawela at an altitude of 1316 meters. It is found throughout the wet zone forest reserves including small patches of forests such as Meethirigala, Labugama and Bodinagala, close to the city of Colombo. In the dry zone I have seen them in all the national parks. On the east coast I have seen them at Pulmoddai. They are generally found in small groups and during the nesting season, which is from February to May pairs, will dig burrows on soft earth banks or on sandy ground where they lay their eggs.

In Wilpattu this species is found throughout the park. It is more commonly seen during the breeding season from about mid February where pairs start digging burrows in to the sand. During this period they are quite common at localities such as Kokkare Weli Kanda, Kudapatessa, Mahapatessa, Kali Villu, Panikkar Villu, uda para and Tala Wila.

This species is not as trusting as the Blue-tailed Bee-eaters thus one needs to approach them cautiously for photography.