Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus)

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater

[order] CORACIIFORMES | [family] Meropidae | [latin] Merops persicus | [UK] Blue-cheeked Bee-eater | [FR] Guepier | [DE] Blauwangen-Spint | [ES] Abejaruco Persa | [NL] Groene Bijeneter


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Merops persicus EU sw, nw AF AF
Merops persicus chrysocercus nw Africa to w Africa
Merops persicus persicus Egypt and the Middle East to Kazakhstan and w India to e Africa

Physical charateristics

Blue-cheeked bee-eater differs markedly from European bee eater in its predominantly bright green plumage and rufous-chesnut throat, with yellow only on chin. Elongated central tail feathers of adult are longer, and has longer, finer black bill, giving it a longer, more streamlined look than European.
Narrower black face mask bordered above and below by pale bands frequently whitish-looking than bluish, gives it distinctive facial expression, even at a distance when colours are hard to see. In flight from below, look quite dark-throated, and underwings much paler and obviously coppery overall with narrower, less obvious dark trailing edge.
Adult winter is slightly duller overall. Juvenile is markedly duller and lacks elongated central tail feathers. Female are like male but its tail feathers are average shorter.
Blue-cheeked bee-eater feeds by making long pursuit flights from perch, and even from ground. It returns to perch to knock prey and, if is a hymenoptera, to rub its tail.
Migratory, it’s moving in small or large flocks mainly by day, passing on broad front often at considerable height. They vacate breeding grounds in August. On long sea crossing, they have to migrate by night. It’s a long distance migrant.
These bee-eaters are gregarious, nesting colonially in sandy banks. They feed and roost communally.

Listen to the sound of Blue-cheeked Bee-eater

[audio: Bee-eater.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 46 cm wingspan max.: 49 cm
size min.: 27 cm size max.: 31 cm
incubation min.: 23 days incubation max.: 26 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 26 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 8  


Eurasia : Southwest, Northwest AF


Blue-cheeked bee-eater breeds mainly in sand deserts near water fringed with bushes and acacia or tamarisks. It lives in open cultivation, with some trees and bushes, or dry uncultivated country with scattered bushes. Almost always found in close association with water in form of rivers, irrigation canals, lakes or marshes. It winters in open woodland and grassland.


Blue-cheeked bee-eater nest solitary or in loose colonies in sandy banks, on canal or ditch, low cliff and sandy mud plain. They make a burrow 1 to 3 mter long, depending of softness of soil, nearly straight, in cliff horizontal and in level-declining 15/20 degrees. Female lays 4 to 8 white eggs. Incubation lasts 23 to 26 days. Both parents care the young.

Feeding habits

Blue-cheeked bee-eaters are insectivorous, eating mainly flying insects. They can eat dangerous insects such as bees, wasps and hornets which are rendered harmless before being eaten: the tail (and sting) of the insects is rubbed against the perch to express the venom and often the sting itself.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater status Least Concern


Mainly migratory. Two palearctic races both winter in Africa. In north-west Africa (M. p. chrysocercus), part of population makes northward post-breeding movement in August-September (probably from late July), Morocco to Tunisia, though rarely reaches Mediterranean coast; followed by southward migration in October. Winters in West Africa from Senegambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Sierra Leone east to Nigeria. Egyptian and Middle East population (M. p. persicus) mainly migratory; winters in eastern half of Africa from Ethiopia and eastern Sudan to South Africa.

Distribution map

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *