Little bee-eater

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Little bee-eater
Little bee-eater (Merops pusillus argutus) Namibia.jpg
M. p. argutus, Namibia
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Coraciiformes
Family: Meropidae
Genus: Merops
M. pusillus
Binomial name
Merops pusillus
  • Melittophagus pusillus

The little bee-eater (Merops pusillus) is a near passerine bird species in the bee-eater family, Meropidae.[2] They are found in Sub-Saharan Africa.[3] They should not be confused with the little green bee-eater (Merops orientalis). Migration is limited to seasonal movements depending on rainfall patterns.

Members of this species, like other bee-eaters, are rich and brightly-coloured slender birds. They have green upper parts, yellow throats, black gorgets, and rich brown upper breasts fading to buffish ochre on the belly.[4] Their wings are green and brown.[5] Their beaks and legs are black.[6] They reach a length of 15–17 cm, which makes them the smallest African bee-eater. Sexes are alike. Often silent, their call is a soft "seep".

These are abundant and tame birds, familiar throughout their range. There have been estimated to be between 60-80 million little bee-eaters. They breed in open country with bushes, preferably near water. Just as the name suggests, bee-eaters predominantly eat insects, especially bees, wasps and hornets, who are caught in the air by sorties from an open perch. This species often hunts from low perches, maybe only a metre or less high. Before eating their meal, a bee-eater removes the stinger by repeatedly hitting the insect on a hard surface.

Unlike most bee-eaters, these are solitary nesters, making a tunnel in sandy banks, or sometimes in the entrance to an Aardvark den. They lay 4 to 6 spherical white eggs. Both the male and the female take care of the eggs. These birds roost communally, lined up on a tree branch.

Subspecies and plumages[edit]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Merops pusillus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22683688A92995977. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22683688A92995977.en. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  2. ^ Nigel Redman; Terry Stevenson; John Fanshawe (2010). Birds of the Horn of Africa: Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and Socotra. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 473. ISBN 9781408135761.
  3. ^ Eugene M. McCarthy (2006). Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World. Oxford University Press. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-19-518323-8.
  4. ^ Nigel Redman; Terry Stevenson; John Fanshawe (2020). Birds of the Horn of Africa: Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and Socotra. A&C Black. p. 244. ISBN 9781408125809.
  5. ^ "Little Bee-eater (Merops pusillus)". 2021-09-16. Retrieved 2023-01-26.
  6. ^ The Ibis: journal of the British Ornithologists' Union. Vol. 4. Wiley-Blackwell. 1874. p. 363.
  • Fry, C. Hilary; Fry, Kathie (1992). Kingfishers, Bee-eaters and Rollers. Illustrated by Alan Harris. ISBN 0-7136-8028-8.
  • Gosler, Andrew, ed. (1991). The Hamlyn photographic guide to birds of the world. Foreword by Christopher Perrins. London: Hamlyn. ISBN 0-600-57239-0.

External links[edit]