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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki. Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Bee-eater

Merops apiaster

  • Name also: European Bee-eater
  • Family: Bee-eaters – Meropidae
  • Appearance: Extremely colourful, slender birds with long, slightly downturned beaks.
  • Size: Length 25–29 cm, wingspan 36–40 cm, weight 44–78 g.
  • Nest: In a hole in a sandy or clay bank.
  • Breeding: Lays 4–10 eggs May–June. Both parents incubate, for about 20 days. Young able to fly within 30–31 days.
  • Distribution: Breeds in semi-open habitats in Central Europe and Southern Russia. Birds seen annually in Finland between May and August as vagrants.
  • Migration: Autumn migration in August, returning in May. Winters in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Diet: Flying insects, caught during short diving flights from a vantage point such as a telephone wire or electricity supply pole.
  • Calls: A soft but clearly audible, throaty “gruuh”.

Bee-eaters are very brightly coloured birds about the size of a small thrush, with slender bodies and long, slightly downturned beaks. The feathers in the middle of their tails are elongated and form a needle-like extension to the tail. Their plumages are very colourful, with reddish-brown caps, upper backs and mid wing coverts, white forehead, yellow throat and shoulders, a black stripe running from the beak to the eye and beyond, pale blue underparts and a greenish tail. Their wings are largely bluish above, and reddish-grey beneath, with a narrow black band along the trailing edge both above and below. Their legs are reddish-brown and they have black beaks and red irises.

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