birds

Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters

Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters (Merops hirundineus)

The Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters (Merops hirundineus) is a near passerine bird in the bee-eater family Meropidae.

Distribution:

Swallow-tailed Bee-eater breeds in savannah woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa. It is partially migratory, moving in response to rainfall patterns.

Close-up Image of Bee-eaters Perched
Close-up Image of Bee-eaters Perched

Description:

This species, like other bee-eaters, is a richly coloured, slender bird. Its colours and readily visible forked tail make this species unmistakable. It is mainly green with a yellow face, blue gorget, and black eye stripe and beak. It can reach a length of 20–22 cm, including the long forked green or blue feathers. Sexes are alike.

This is a species which prefers somewhat more wooded country than most bee-eaters. This attractive bird is readily approached. Just 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. Swallowtail has a preference for honeybees.

Group of Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters Perched on Tree
Group of Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters Perched on Tree

Breeding / Nesting

These bee-eaters are nesting as pairs or in very small colonies in sandy banks, or similar flat ground. They make a relatively long tunnel in which the 2 to 4 spherical, white eggs are laid. These birds also feed and roost communally.

 

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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