Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters

The Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Merops leschenaulti is a near passerine bird in the bee-eater family Meropidae. Its scientific name commemorates the French botanist Jean Baptiste Leschenault de la Tour.

Distribution / Range

It is a resident breeder in southern Asia from India east to southeast Asia and Indonesia. It breeds in sub-tropical open woodland, often near water. It is most common in highland areas. These birds feed and roost communally.


This species, like other bee-eaters, is a richly colored, slender bird. It is predominantly green, with blue on the rump and lower belly. Its face and throat are yellow with a black eye stripe, and the crown and nape are rich chestnut. The thin curved bill is black. Sexes are alike, but young birds are duller.

This species is 18–20 cm long; it lacks the two elongated central tail feathers possessed by most of its relatives.

Chestnut headed bee-eater
Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters

Diet / Feeding

As the name suggests, bee-eaters predominantly eat insects, especially bees, wasps, and hornets, which are caught in the air by sorties from an open perch.

Breeding / Nesting

These bee-eaters are gregarious, nesting colonially in sandy banks.

They make a relatively long tunnel in which 5 to 6 spherical white eggs are laid. Both the male and the female take care of the eggs.


The call is similar to that of the European bee-eater.

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater


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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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