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European Bee-eater

(Merops apiaster)
Alternate name(s): "Bee-eater"
German name(s): "(Europäischer) Bienenfresser"

Size: 25-29 cm (incl. streamers 0-3 cm); wing span: 36-40 cm
Weight: 45-75 g

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See European Bee-eater at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range


Click here for sighting information



Lateral view of an European Bee-eater on a power line (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[June 2018]

Near-dorsal view of an European Bee-eater (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[June 2018]

Near-dorsal view of an European Bee-eater, now seen preening (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[June 2018]

European Bee-eaters, at least one of which [on the right] with its prey (photo courtesy of S. Cuturilov)
[Near Becej, Serbia, July 2017]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Jun - Aug(?) Eggs: 5 - 8 Incubation period: ca. 21 days Fledging age: ?

Nest building: Female & male(?) Incubation: Female(?) Dependent care: Female & male


Type: Tunnel Material: Sand Height above ground: N/A

Overview of a steep bank with European Bee-eater nest tunnels (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Near Tykocin, Podlachia, Poland, May 2016]


Size: 27 x 22 mm Colour: Glossy white Shape: Spherical

Food, Diet

Like other bee-eaters, European Bee-eaters are insect hunters. They have a strong preference for European honey bees, Apis mellifera, and dragonflies, which they catch in-flight before returning to their perch, whacking the prey to death and detaching the wings, before swallowing the insect's body.

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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