After a long and successful polling campaign, the Armenian Society for the Protection of Birds has named European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) the 2012 Armenian Bird of the Year!
Over 1,270 people voted in the competition, which besides the winning species included Little Owl, Egyptian Vulture, Eurasian Blackbird, Common Kingfisher, Northern Lapwing, Osprey, Dalmatian Pelican, Common Cuckoo and Eurasian Jay. Voters participated on the ASPB website, by mail response, and for the first year, by polling on Facebook. Some little bird fans even paid personal visits to ASPB office to give their vote to the bird of their choice. And the results of our poll are in!
The European Bee-eater is native to Armenia. It is one of the most colorful birds in Europe. A bottom of its body is blue-green and on a top you can mainly see red and orange although there are some green and blue shades there. Under a beak you can see vast yellow stain, and a black stripe crosses a red eye. In spite of a great bunch of colors it is not that easy to see it on meads full of flowers where it lives. What is helpful in observing this bird is its willingness to seat on wires, remote trees and other elevated areas where they can look out for insects to eat. Mostly bee-eaters eat insects caught in a flight. They usually hunt for bees, wasps and humble-bees and occasionally coleopters and dragonflies. Each day during feeding period they catch insects equal to mass of 225 bees.
Bee-eaters choose open areas with diversified landscape, often near rivers or other water reservoirs. They build nests on clay scarps, where they dig a hole ended with a breeding chamber. Bee-eaters like to socialize and live usually in stocks helping each other to raise their chicks together.
The goal of the Bird of the Year campaign is to drastically raise awareness of Armenia’s birds, both in country and abroad. Voted the top species by 238 votes, the European Bee-eater will be the focus of ASPB’s conservation campaigns and research work for the next year. Educational events will be held to introduce European Bee-eater to Armenia’s youth, involving schoolchildren, teachers, and local community members. Furthermore, ASPB will distribute materials featuring the bee-eater, such as pamphlets, stickers, and posters, in order to make this bird more well-known to Armenians.
ASPB is proud to announce the 2012 Bird of the Year!