Tag Archives: Swallow-tailed Bee-eater

Swallow-tailed Bee-eater

Merops hirundineus

The beautiful Swallow-tailed Bee-eater is a highly nomadic bird, especially outside of the breeding season, and inhabits a wide-range of habitats, although they’re mostly associated with arid and semi-arid savannas and woodlands and especially riparian vegetation in these parts. They mostly feed on flying insects, especially bees and wasps, caught on the wing by making short dashes from an open perch. They are quite adept at disarming the stings of their prey by beating and rubbing it against the perch before consuming it. Adults grow to about 21cm in length and 23g in weight.

Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters are usually found in pairs or small flocks. Outside the breeding seaon, which spans spring and summer, they sleep communally, in tightly packed rows on their favourite perches. Pairs are monogamous and make solitary nest tunnels in earth walls, riverbanks or inside mammal burrows. Broods of 2-4 chicks are cared for by both parents.

Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters are distributed widely over the Sahel and Africa south of the equator, and the IUCN considers the species to be of least concern. In South Africa, Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters are mainly found in the Northern Cape, North West, Free State and west of the Limpopo Province, occasionally venturing into other parts of the country.