Blue-tailed Bee-eater

Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus ranges Indian subcontinent to Papua New Guinea. In China, resident southern Sichuan to Fujian and Hainan. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR Open country, even farmland (rice paddies), usually near water. Makes constant aerial sallies from branches, fence posts, and telephone lines for bees, wasps, and dragonflies. Highly gregarious. ID & COMPARISON Mainly green above and below, but lower back, tail, “prongs” (elongated central tail feathers), and undertail coverts blue. Wings blue and green when folded, in flight show chestnut (mostly from below) and black trailing edge. Like many bee-eaters, has broad, black eye-stripe (mask) bordered sky blue. Chin yellow; throat brown. Juvenile duller, with dark iris, and lacks prongs. Appreciably larger than Rainbow Bee-eater M. ornatus; Rainbow has black bib, more yellow on throat, and darker blue tail. BARE PARTS Bill long, slightly decurved, black; feet black. Chestnut iris. VOICE Busy, rattling trills, often given in flight. — 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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