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Nyctyornis athertoni.jpg
Blue-bearded Bee-eater
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Coraciiformes
Family: Meropidae
Genus: Nyctyornis
Jardine & Selby, 1830

N. amictus
N. athertoni

Nyctyornis is a genus of the bee-eaters, near passerine birds in the family Meropidae. There are just two members of this group, which occur in tropical south and southeastern Asia.

The genus is basal and forms a sister group to the remaining members of the bee-eater family.[1]

Like other bee-eaters, Nyctyornis species are colourful birds with long tails, long downturned bills and pointed wings. They are large bee-eaters (Blue-bearded is the largest of all bee-eaters), predominantly green, with a face colour as indicated by the species' name. This colour extends on to the slightly hanging throat feathers to form the “beard”.

Like other bee-eaters, they predominantly eat insects, especially bees, wasps and hornets, which are caught in the air, but they have a quite different strategy. They hunt alone or in pairs, rather than in flocks, and sit motionless for long periods before pursuing their prey. Blue-bearded will also clamber in foliage for insects, and bees are sometimes attract by the bright blue beard of a perched bird, presumably mistaking it for a flower.

Their size and more rounded wings gives Nyctyornis species a heavier flapping flight less graceful than that of the 'Merops genus

Like other bee-eaters, they nest in burrows tunneled into the side of sandy banks, but do not form colonies.


  1. ^ Marks, BD; J.D. Weckstein, R.G. Moyle, 2007. Molecular phylogenetics of the bee-aters (Aves: Meropidae) based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequence data. Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution 45(1):23-32.

Other sources[edit]

  • C H Fry & Kathie Fry; illustrated by Alan Harris (2000). Kingfishers, Bee-eaters and Rollers. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-04879-7.