The European Bee-Eater (Merops apiaster) is a small passerine bird in the Meropidae family of bee-eaters.
The European Bee-Eater has brown and yellow upper parts, green-grey wings, a yellow throat, and a bluish belly. It has a long, thin black mask around its orange-brown eyes, with a shiny blue line above its eye. It has a notched tail. Its beak is black. The male and female look similar, but the female tends to have greener feathers on the shoulders.
It can grow to 27-29 centimetres (11 inches) tall.
It is native to southern Europe, north Africa and western Asia. It migrates to warm locations in winter.
The European Bee-Eater likes grassy locations and sandy banks near water.
It eats insects, such as bees, wasps, and hornets. It catches the insects in flight. Before eating a bee, the European Bee-Eater removes the stinger by hitting the insect on a hard surface, such as a branch or log. It can eat about 250 bees a day.
Its nest is a long tunnel. The female lays 5-8 eggs. The male and the female sit on the eggs, which hatch after about 21 days.
[Location of photographs: Dushanbe, Tajikistan]
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM