Northern carmine bee-eater
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|Northern carmine bee-eater|
It is native to Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda. It occurs as a vagrant in Burundi.
Ian Smalley and his colleagues suggested that the distribution of the northern carmine bee-eater is tightly linked to the presence of secondary loess deposits throughout Africa.
This species, like other bee-eaters, is a richly colored, slender bird, predominantly carmine in color, except for a greenish blue head and throat and distinctive black mask. This species has red eyes, a black, pointed, decurved beak, and elongated central tail feathers.
The sexes are similar in appearance, and the juveniles can be distinguished from adults by their lack of elongated central tail feathers and the pinkish brown coloration of their mantle, chest to belly, and flanks.
They nest in large colonies in cliffs, usually near river banks, where they use their bills to dig long horizontal nesting tunnels, often eight feet or more in length. Three to five eggs are laid per clutch.
Their diet is made up primarily of bees and other flying insects, such as grasshoppers and locusts. The main hunting strategy of bee-eaters is to keep watch for flying insects from a perch, and then snatch them out of the air using their beaks, before returning to the perch.
The call is a deep, throaty tunk in flight; a series of rik notes when perched.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Merops nubicus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- McLaren, S. et al. (2014). "Loess and Bee-Eaters II: The ‘loess’ of North Africa and the nesting behaviour of the Northern Carmine Bee-Eater (Merops nubicus Gmelin 1788)". Quaternary International. 334-335: 112–118. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2014.01.040.
- Northern Carmine Bee-eater in Zoo Basel/Switzerland Zoo Basel (dt.) hear it calling
- Merops nubicus at zipcodezoo.com
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