Wednesday 3 July 2024

3-7-2024 BONAIRE, VALENCIA - EUROPEAN BEE-EATER (Merops apiaster)

The European bee-eater (Merops apiaster) is a near passerine bird in the bee-eater family, Meropidae. As their name suggests, these brightly-colored birds predominantly eat flying insects, especially bees and wasps, which they catch on the wing from an open perch.

The European bee-eater is a richly coloured, slender bird. It has brown and yellow upper parts, whilst the wings are green and the beak is black. Sexes are alike. Female tends to have greener rather than gold feathers on their shoulders. Non-breeding plumage is much duller and with a blue-green back and no elongated central tail feathers. The juvenile resembles a non-breeding adult but with less variation in the feather colours. Adults begin to moult in June or July and complete the process by August or September. There is a further moult into breeding plumage in winter in Africa.

European bee-eaters breed in southern and central Europe, northern and southern Africa, and western Asia. These birds are strongly migratory and spend winter in tropical Africa. The southern African population is resident and remains year-round in its native range. European bee-eaters breed in open country in warmer climates. They prefer to live in woods, river valleys, meadows and plains, hillsides, riverbanks with some shrubs, cultivated areas with some trees, pastures, rice fields, and semi-deserts. In Africa, they inhabit savannas, near lakes, and in cultivated areas.

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