European Bee-eater

European Bee-eater
European Bee-eater Merops apiasterXinjiang, July. Xinjiang is the eastern extremity of the breeding range of this species. (Craig Brelsford)

European Bee-eater Merops apiaster breeds southern Europe to western and northern Xinjiang. Has typical bee-eater characteristics, including rich coloring; diet consisting mainly of bees, wasps, and hornets caught on the wing; and colonial tunnel nesting. Crown and nape chestnut; forehead white and blue. Mantle and back chestnut and yellow. Throat yellow; narrow gorget black. Underparts blue. Wings chestnut, green, and blue with black trailing edge. Tail blue-green. Juvenile has green back and no “prongs” (elongated central tail feathers). BARE PARTS Iris dark chestnut. Bill black; feet grey. VOICE Loud, distinctive, churring and melodious call, continuously repeated. — 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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