Using in situ ultrahigh vacuum reflection electron microscopy, we have first visualized the evolution of step-bunched Si(1 1 1) surface during Se beam etching depending on substrate temperature T and terrace size required for survival of etching-induced vacancies. Below T ~ 630 °C, the etching proceeds in layer-by-layer mode via periodic nucleation of small 2D vacancy islands without noticeable motion of steps. However, in 630–830 °C interval, the etching of the 7 × 7 reconstructed Si(1 1 1) step-bunched surface is realized by both step flow and continuous nucleation and growth of 2D vacancy islands on wide terraces, which leads to the excavation of initially flat surface between step bunches. At T > 830 °C, the etching proceeds by step flow with preservation of initial surface morphology. We have found that the Si(1 1 1) surface etching by Se beam is characterized by 2.65 eV activation energy that limits etching kinetics in low-temperature range when the whole Si(1 1 1) surface is converted to disordered impurity-induced Si(1 1 1)“1 × 1”-Se phase.