Blue-bearded Bee-eater

Blue-bearded Bee-eater
Blue-bearded Bee-eater Nyctyornis athertoni, Nabang, Yunnan, China, elev. 670 m (2,200 ft.), January. (Craig Brelsford)

Blue-bearded Bee-eater Nyctyornis athertoni ranges India and Southeast Asia to China. Nominate resident southeast Tibet and western and southern Yunnan and brevicaudatus endemic to Hainan. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR Thick broadleaved evergreen forests in lowlands and hilly country, to 1800 m (5,910 ft.). More tied to forests than other bee-eaters. Perches quietly atop tall trees at edges of clearings, waiting for prey (mainly bees) to fly near. ID Large, distinctive; mainly green. Sky-blue forecrown and throat feathers, which are elongated and fluffy. Belly buff, with smudgy green streaking. Vent and undertail coppery-orange. Tail square at end; lacks streamers. Juveniles mainly green but have diagnostic blue feathers. BARE PARTS Bill large, sickle-shaped, black with pale base. Short legs dull green. Iris orange, but may appear dark. VOICE Loud, low, croaking and cackling calls, infrequently heard. — Craig Brelsford

THE BEE-EATERS OF CHINA has research on all six species in the family Meropidae in China. Click any link below:

Blue-bearded Bee-eater Nyctyornis athertoni
Asian Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis
Blue-tailed Bee-eater M. philippinus
Blue-throated Bee-eater M. viridis
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater M. leschenaulti
European Bee-eater M. apiaster


Daniel Bengtsson served as chief ornithological consultant for Craig Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, from which this species description is drawn.

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