Our next visitor is another bird that suffers from an unimaginative name: the Little Green Bee-Eater. The name describes him to a tee (he's little, he's green, and he eats bees), but is sadly lacking in grandness. The Little Green Bee-Eater is only one of many species of Bee-Eaters found in Egypt, but it is the only one that is actually native to Egypt. All the other Bee-Eaters, from the Blue-Cheeked to the European, are migratory visitors. Many of the Bee-Eaters are bold, perching out in the open where everyone can see them (they are something of show-offs), except when they are waiting for dinner to fly by, hiding in deep foliage.
Here we have a rare treat indeed. This is an Ibis, one of the birds revered by the ancient Egyptians as a holy animal. It was sacred to Thoth, the god of knowledge and writing, who had the head of an Ibis. The true Sacred Ibis has not been seen wild in Egypt for over a hundred years; this is actually an Amboselli Ibis, a very close relative.
Doesn't the water look inviting? Egypt can be rather hot at times, but the Nile is always cool. A common ancient Egyptian blessing was, "may you drink from the middle of the river," for the middle was where the water was the coolest and the freshest.
Well, the birds certainly seem to like it, especially this one here. This is a Pied Kingfisher, a precise if not too imaginative name; he feeds entirely on fish, diving into the water and snatching them with his long beak. Over the past several years the number of Kingfishers has increased due to the fact that they can "fish" easier in the clearer waters of the Nile since the silt is now held back by the Aswan Dam.
This tiny bird is the Nile Valley Sunbird. It's a beautiful shimmering royal blue and purple all over its body, except for that bright, sun-yellow patch on its stomach. Most birds in Egypt are birds of prey, that is, they eat other animals, such as fish, rodents, or insects. The Sunbird though, lives entirely on flower nectar, like a hummingbird.
Here's another Ibis, the Red-Billed Ibis. This one's a little easier to get close to than the other one. Like many birds that live near the Nile, it lives on fish. The long bill, along with an excellent sense of balance and powerful legs, is perfect for perching on a branch, and "fishing" for dinner, which is what the one above is doing.