Vaalnest reviews the Bee-Eater, Swallow-tailed bird

Posted by Collen on Tue August 25, 2015 in Birding in Vaal Marina.

The swallow-tailed bee-eater is a near passerine bird in the bee-eater family known as the Meropidae. It breeds in savannah woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa and it is partially migratory, moving in response to rainfall patterns.

This is a species which prefers somewhat more wooded country than most bee-eaters. This attractive bird is readily approached. Just as the name suggests, bee-eaters predominantly eat insects, especially bees, wasps and hornets, which are caught in the air by sorties from an open perch. These bee-eaters are nesting as pairs or in very small colonies in sandy banks, or similar flat ground. They make a relatively long tunnel in which the 2 to 4 spherical, white eggs are laid. These birds also feed and roost communally. Here are some features to lookout for when spotting the Bee-eater:

  • It is a richly coloured, slender bird.
  • Its colours and readily visible forked tail make this species unmistakable.
  • It is mainly green with a yellow throat, blue gorget and black eye stripe and beak.
  • It can reach a length of 20–22 cm
  • Its length also contributes to the long forked green or blue feathers.
  • Sexes are alike

Overall species make for a great spotting if you are an avid birder, the Swallowtail has a preference for honeybees.






1 BirdLife International (2012). "Merops hirundineus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.


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