Madagascan bird that's not in my book.

 Hi, I am not a birder as such but I do like to know what I see.
I saw this in the North of Madagascar, near Russian Bay. The obvious candidate is the Madagascan Bee Eater but all the illustrations I can find show them as green and without the white undersides.
The second picture was taken 100 yards from the first and was what I was expecting to see.
Can't see any reference to significant colour variations so I am puzzled.
Advice please.

  • When I first saw the picture my initial reaction was "oooh, an exotic kingfisher", and comparing your two pictures, the 1st one appears to have a much longer bill to head/body ratio than the 2nd, akin to UK Kingfishers. I don't know if there are Madagascan Kingfishers, or other Kingfishers in Madagascar, and I'm certainly no expert, but that's my twopenneth :o)
  • Hi Rob, I think there is a Bee-eater called an "Olive bee-eater" in Madagascar which looks very like your bird, however I'm not an expert on them so wait for other opinions. I think both are Bee-eaters but not 100% sure.


    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • In reply to PimperneBloke:

    Yes, kingfisher was pretty high on my list too.

    Again there isn't one in my book that looks like that, I got the one below and a really bad picture of a pied but nothing quite like.

  • In reply to HAZY:

    Hi Hazy,

    The book I have has the Olive as another name for the Madagascan, Merops superciliosus.

    I think I may be having to buy a better book ;-)

  • Rob, Without any books covering non-UK birds (I'm obviously not an expert or I'd have them!), when I'm looking for evidence to check the ID of a non-UK bird I search the gallery of Surfbirds because almost certainly someone will have posted a photo and if the bird is commonly seen, there may be hundreds of photos by individual birder photographers. . There is only one photo of Olive Bee-eater on Surfbirds--have a look.

    Kind regards, 


  • In reply to Gardenbirder:

    Hi Ann,
    That is a much better picture than mine of the olive bee-eater and a great resource to know about.
    I will be adding it to my favourites.
    But I still don't know what the brown one back into surfbirds.

  • In reply to Rob Hadfield:

    Rob, As you have probably worked out, the Surfbirds site also has UK birds. I can waste hours looking at the photos!

    Kind regards, 


  • Hi,

    I've looked at the list of recorded species in Madagascar, and there is nothing else that I can find that is even close. I am assuming it must be a Madagascar Bee-eater...

    There's a few pictures here that I think sort of match... particularly on the last two rows...

  • In reply to Chris B:

    Hi Chris,
    Some of those have very similar colouration to my first picture.
    So yes I think I'm going to go with the Madagascan Bee-eater, just an unusually coloured one.

    Thanks all.
  • In reply to Chris B:

    Thanks, Chris! I knew about the Cornell Lab but had not explored enough to come across the library--a wonderful site!

    Kind regards,