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14

Green Bee-eater

(Merops orientalis)
Alternate name(s): "Little Green Bee-eater"
Size: 20-25 cm (incl. tail streamers 2-8 cm); wing span 30 cm

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 Green Bee-eater at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

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Race "cyanophrys"

ADULT

Sex unknown

Pair of Green Bee-eaters taking a rest
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, December 2009]

Pair of Green Bee-eaters, one of which is launching itself into action
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, September 2009]

Direct comparison of the relative sizes of a Green Bee-eater (below) and a Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (above)
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, September 2009]

Family of Green Bee-eaters; in total there were four fledglings with their parents
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, September 2009]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Closer look at one of the fledgling Green Bee-eaters
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, September 2009]

Race "muscatensis"

ADULT

Frontal view of a Green Bee-eater
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, December 2009]

Frontal view of a Green Bee-eater looking sideways
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, December 2009]

Green Bee-eater having a good scratch
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, December 2009]

Lateral view of a Green Bee-eater scanning the surface of a pond for prey while cooling evaporately through its bill
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, September 2009]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

This Green Bee-eater has much duller colours; possibly a first-year bird
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat]

Lateral view of a Green Bee-eater with pale plumage hunting from the ground; note the extremely thin, thread-like tongue
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, May 2010]

Partly obscured lateral view of a Green Bee-eater
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, November 2009]

Juvenile Green Bee-eater hunting from its favourite perch
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, May 2010]

Close-up view of a juvenile Green Bee-eater on a 41 C hot day
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, May 2010]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Mar - Jun Eggs: 3 - 5 Incubation period: ca. 14 days Fledging age: 21 - 28 days

Nest building: Male & female Incubation: Female & male Dependent care: Female & male

Breeding pairs of Green Bee-eater may employ helpers, presumably from earlier broods, in building nest tunnels and raising chicks.

Nest

Type: Tunnel Material: Sandy soil, no lining Height above ground: N/A

Overview photo of the entrance to a Green Bee-eater's nest, carved into a steep, sandy (manmade) bank; to the left of the hole an abandoned attempt
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, May 2010]

Close-up look at the entrance hole of a Green Bee-eater's nest; the tunnel is long enough to render the nest itself invisible
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, May 2010]

Eggs

Size: 20 x 17 mm Colour: Glossy white Shape: Oval (near-spherical)

Behaviour

Green Bee-eaters usually come in pairs or as singles, while their larger cousins, the Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, live in clans of about 10 birds.

After catching an insect, Green Bee-eaters will sit on a perch, turn their head to a side and then flip around in a sideways downward movement, smashing the insect against the branch that they are sitting on to kill it before eating it.

Food, Diet

As their name already indicates (and like other members of the Merops genus), Green Bee-eaters feed on bees, but also other insects such as e.g. dragonflies. They catch their prey in flight, then take it to their perch where it is killed with a head flick smashing it against the branch.

They were seen by us to also hunt under water (photo below).

Green Bee-eater emerging from water with its catch; one can clearly see how it shakes itself free of water in a circular motion while emerging from the water's surface
[Campus of Sultan Qaboos University, near Muscat, September 2009]

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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