Blue-cheeked bee-eater -- 蓝颊蜂虎 (Merops persicus)

Blue-cheeked bee-eater pair on a branch
IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern LEAST

Top facts

  • The blue-cheeked bee-eater nests in colonies in sandy banks.
  • When nesting the blue-cheeked bee-eater digs a long tunnel in which four to eight eggs are laid.
  • The blue-cheeked bee-eater is migratory, breeding in North Africa and the Middle East and over-wintering in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • As its name suggests the blue-cheeked bee-eater eats bees, but it also eats other insects including dragonflies, beetles and locusts.
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Blue-cheeked bee-eater fact file

Blue-cheeked bee-eater description

GenusMerops (1)

The blue-cheeked bee-eater is named for the blue stripes above and below the eyes, which sometimes, when the plumage is worn, can appear more white than blue (4) (5). More noticeable than these blue 'cheeks’ are the bright green colour of the streamlined body (4), the yellow throat and brown upper breast (2), and the broad black bar that runs across the eyes (4). The blue-cheeked bee-eater also possesses two elongated, central tail feathers (6).

Guêpier de Perse.
Length: 27 - 33 cm (2)
Wingspan: 46 - 49 cm (3)
38 - 50 g (3)

Blue-cheeked bee-eater biology

Bee-eaters are insectivores, catching insects on the wing during short flights from a nearby hunting perch (4) (6) (8). Bees are common prey, as the name implies, but the blue-cheeked bee-eater also preys on wasps, hornets, dragonflies, beetles, cicadas, locusts and other insects (6) (8) (9).

The blue-cheeked bee-eater breeds in northern parts of Africa and subtropical Asia, from April to June (6). It is a gregarious bird that nests in colonies, and digs a long tunnel in sandy soil that leads to a nesting chamber where the spherical, white eggs are deposited (4) (8). Between four and eight eggs are laid in a clutch and both parents take turns to care for their brood. In some areas, blue-cheeked bee-eaters can be found nesting in mixed colonies, living relatively peacefully alongside the European bee-eater (6).


Blue-cheeked bee-eater range

The breeding range of this species extends across parts of northern Africa and southern Asia, from Morocco to eastern Kazakhstan (6). It migrates to southern Africa in the winter, when it can be found from Senegal south to Nigeria in the west, and from Sudan south to South Africa in the east (7).


Blue-cheeked bee-eater habitat

Across its range, the blue-cheeked bee-eater can be found in forest, savannah, grassland, wetland, desert, coastal and artificial habitats (1)


Blue-cheeked bee-eater status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Blue-cheeked bee-eater threats

The large range of the blue-cheeked bee-eater, combined with the lack of any known global threats to this species, means that this species is not currently considered to be threatened with extinction (1).


Blue-cheeked bee-eater conservation

There are currently no specific conservation measures in place for the blue-cheeked bee-eater.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
  2. Newman, K. (2000) Newman’s Birds of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
  3. Oiseaux (October, 2009)
  4. Davidson, I. and Sinclair, I. (2006) Southern African Birds: A Photographic Guide. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
  5. Sinclair, I. and Hockey, P.A.R. (2005) The Larger Illustrated Guide to Birds of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
  6. Kossenko, S. and Fry, C. (1998) Competition and coexistence of the European bee-eater Merops apiaster and the blue-cheeked bee-eater Merops persicus in Asia. Ibis, 140: 2-13.
  7. Lewis, A. and Pomeroy, D. (1989) A Bird Atlas of Kenya. A.A.Balkerna, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
  8. Huntley, B., Green, R., Collingham, Y. and Willis, S. (2007) A Climatic Atlas of European Breeding Birds. Durham University, The RSPB and Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  9. Robinson, R.A. (2005) BirdFacts: Profiles of Birds Occurring in Britain and Ireland. BTO Research Report 407, BTO, Thetford.

Image credit

Blue-cheeked bee-eater pair on a branch  
Blue-cheeked bee-eater pair on a branch

© Hanne & Jens Eriksen

Hanne & Jens Eriksen


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