For much of the year these two species, the Yellow-footed Antechinus and the Rainbow Bee-eater, maintain a more than adequate social distance.
Rainbowbirds, of course, are in northern Australia from late March until early October. It’s only when they return to central Victoria to reoccupy their breeding tunnels – usually from mid November until about Xmas, that they resume contact with one of their arch enemies.
Yellow-footed Antechinus are restless hunters of insects, lizards and if they get the opportunity, eggs and nestling birds. At present Yellow-footed Antechinus have young – if you are lucky you might see a female playing ‘piggyback’ with its brood.
They will happily forage on the vertical faces of erosion gullies, typical sites for Rainbow Bee-eater nests. Each summer I watch the contest between these two amazing animals as the bee-eaters chase the antechinus away whenever they venture near an active nest.
In times past other predators would have also been a concern – Eastern Quoll (to roosting birds), dunnarts and other antechinus species – sadly all now locally extinct or rare. I imagine the Brush-tailed Phascogale may also pose a threat, but they are much less abundant than their smaller cousin … and I’m not sure they could squeeze into a bee-eater tunnel!