Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis) Sanbaoniao

(30 cm.) Large, slightly hooked red bill; large head; bluish-green plumage; light patches in wings seen in flight

The Dollarbird, also known as the Oriental Dollarbird, is a member of the roller family, “Coraciiformes,” and is the only member of this family of birds that can be found in East China. The Dollarbird gets its name from the blue spots seen in its wings during flight. The spots look vaguely like coins of money.

The Dollarbird is a large attractive species of roller with green and blue plumage and a large red bill. The bill of young birds is dark and gradually becomes red with age. The large red bill is somewhat hooked, giving it a slight resemblance to a bird of prey. The Dollarbird is often attacked by small songbirds that mistake it for a predatory bird.

This species is found throughout Eastern China during the summer breeding season. While it is a widespread species, it is in no place a common bird, so the sighting of a Dollarbird is always an occasion to be celebrated and savored.

The Dollarbird will often be first seen as it perches, flycatcher-style, in the exposed branch of a dead tree, waiting for insects to fly by. This species is a strict insectivore, and as such it must migrate to warm climates in the winter where a steady supply of insects is assured.

The Dollarbird is migratory only in the parts of its range that become cold in winter and will not support insect life. In the warmer parts of its range, the Dollarbird will set up year-round residence.

Dollarbird (Photo by Dick Daniels)

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