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bee-eater

bee-eater, any of the brightly colored, insect-eating birds of the family Meropidae. They range in length from 6 to 14 in. (15–36 cm). The plumage of many species is predominantly green but usually includes a variety of other bright colors. Many species have a black stripe running from the eye to the base of the long, sharp bill. They are found throughout the tropical and warm-temperate Old World but are most numerous in the tropical regions of Africa and Asia. Some species are migratory, and the few that breed in temperate areas, such as Merops apiaster, the common, or European, bee-eater, winter in the tropics. Most of the Meropidae are gregarious, and the birds of some species travel in flocks of hundreds or thousands of individuals. The nests of most species are colonial burrows, excavated in the sand of riverbanks or road grades. Bee-eaters catch insects on the wing; they subsist primarily upon bees and wasps. They are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Coraciiformes, family Meropidae.

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bee-eater

bee-eater Tropical bird of the Eastern Hemisphere that catches flying bees and wasps. It has a long, curved beak, bright, colourful plumage, and a long tail. It nests in large colonies and builds a tunnel to its egg chamber. Length: 15–38cm (6–15in). Family Meropidae.

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bee-eater

bee-eat·er • n. a brightly colored insectivorous bird (Merops and other genera, family Meropidae) with a large head and a long down-curved bill, and typically with long central tail feathers.

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bee-eaters

bee-eaters See MEROPIDAE.

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Bee-eaters

Bee-eaters

Bee-eaters are about 24 species of birds that make up the family Meropidae. Bee-eaters occur in open habitats and savannas of the south-temperate and tropical zones, ranging through Africa, southern Europe, southern Asia, Southeast Asia, and many

Pacific Islands. Species that breed in temperate habitats migrate to the tropics for the winter.

Bee-eaters have large, pointed wings and a long tail, usually with the two central feathers quite extended. The bill is long, slender, down-curved, and pointed. Their feet and legs are rather small and weak and are only used for perching. Bee-eaters are brightly colored, most commonly with a base hue of green, and have bold markings of yellow, blue, red, brown, black, and white. Nearly all species have a black stripe running through the eye, known as a mask. Both sexes are similarly colored and patterned, as are the juvenile birds.

Bee-eaters tend to occur in groups, often perched in the open. They commonly feed by pursuing and catching insects in the air, a foraging strategy known as hawking. True to their name, the principal food of most species of bee-eaters is bees and wasps. However, a wide diversity of flying insects is taken, depending on their local and seasonal availability. After a bee or wasp is captured in the bill, its abdomen is forcefully wiped against a branch, causing the venom to be discharged.

Bee-eaters nest in a burrow dug into an earthen bank or sand cliff. The tunnels are as long as several meters, and have a nesting chamber at the end, in which two to six eggs are laid. Nesting sites are generally colonial, with large numbers of pairs breeding in the same vicinity, commonly near water. Both sexes share in the incubation of the eggs and care of the young.

The European bee-eater (Merops apiaster ) is a blue-bellied, cinnamon-backed, yellow-throated species of southern Europe and western Asia, wintering in sub-Saharan Africa and India.

The blue-cheeked bee-eater (Merops persicus ) is a widespread species, occurring in Africa and Madagascar through to western Asia. This species has a lime-green body, with a bluish breast, a yellow and chestnut-brown throat, and a black eye-line.

As its name implies, the rainbow-bird (Merops ornatus ) of Australia is an especially lovely and multi-hued bee-eater. This species migrates north to New Guinea after its breeding season in temperate Australia.

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Bee-Eaters

Bee-eaters

Bee-eaters are 24 species of birds that make up the family Meropidae. Bee-eaters occur in open habitats and savannas of the south-temperate and tropical zones, ranging through Africa , southern Europe , southern Asia , Southeast Asia, and many Pacific Islands. Species that breed in temperate habitats migrate to the tropics for the winter.

Bee-eaters have large, pointed wings and a long tail, usually with the two central feathers quite extended. The bill is long, slender, down-curved, and pointed. Their feet and legs are rather small and weak and are only used for perching. Bee-eaters are brightly colored, most commonly with a basal hue of green, and have bold markings of yellow, blue, red, brown, black, and white. All species have a black stripe running through the eye , known as a "mask." Both sexes are similarly colored and patterned, as are the juvenile birds.

Bee-eaters tend to occur in groups, often perched in the open. They commonly feed by pursuing and catching insects in the air, a foraging strategy known as "hawking." True to their name, the principal food of most species of bee-eaters is bees and wasps . However, a wide diversity of flying insects is taken, depending on their local and seasonal availability. After a bee or wasp is captured in the bill, its abdomen is forcefully wiped against a branch, causing the venom to be discharged.

Bee-eaters nest in a burrow dug into an earthen bank or sand cliff. The tunnels are as long as several meters, and have a nesting chamber at the end, in which two to six eggs are laid. Nesting sites are generally colonial, with large numbers of pairs breeding in the same vicinity, commonly near water . Both sexes share in the incubation of the eggs and care of the young.

The European bee-eater (Merops apiaster) is a blue-bellied, cinnamon-backed, yellow-throated species of southern Europe and western Asia, wintering in sub-Saharan Africa and India.

The blue-cheeked bee-eater (Merops persicus) is a widespread species, occurring in Africa and Madagascar through to western Asia. This species has a lime-green body, with a bluish breast, a yellow and chestnut-brown throat, and a black eye-line.

As its name implies, the rainbow-bird (Merops ornatus) of Australia is an especially lovely and multihued bee-eater. This species migrates north to New Guinea after its breeding season in temperate Australia.

Clay Harris

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