European Bee-eater
Merops apiaster

>> GENERAL >>>>>

– medium-sized near passerine, slightly smaller than Western Jackdaw, slimmer and longer-winged
– diurnal/nocturnal migrant
– very vocal in flight, often heard already when no bird is visible or can not be even seen at all

>> FLIGHT >>>>>

– migrates singly or more often in small to medium flocks
– silhouette somewhat starling-like with triangular wings, but larger than Common Starling
– typical flight pattern with erratic, rapid wing beats followed by gliding phases
– birds often do not move in a straight line, but with phases of spiralling and circling, often hunting insects
– magnificent plumage usually only recognisable when the bird has already been identified by its flight pattern and calls
– rarely solitary, usually in small (up to 10 individuals) to large groups (depending on area and region)

>> VISUAL ID >>>>>

European Bee-eater Merops apiaster
BIF2006, 19/06/2010, Hungary, Mathias Putze
– underside: yellow throat and sky blue body separated by a black line

European Bee-eater Merops apiaster
BIF2007, 19/06/2010, Hungary, Mathias Putze
– distinct black trailing edge to the wing – obviously broader at the secondaries

European Bee-eater Merops apiaster
BIF2009, 19/06/2010, Hungary, Mathias Putze
– vent slightly paler

European Bee-eater Merops apiaster, AD M
BIF3274, 30/05/2020, Wolgast, Germany, Roland Neumann
– upperside: cap, upper back, most secondaries and inner wing coverts chestnut
– orange-brown back, yellow scapulars and bluish outer wing give a very colourful impression

European Bee-eater Merops apiaster, AD F
BIF3273, 30/05/2020, Wolgast, Germany, Roland Neumann
– F slightly paler than M, inner wing coverts not as uniform and as rich chestnut
– shorter tail streamers

European Bee-eater Merops apiaster, AD
BIF2018, 19/07/2010, Spain, Mathias Putze
– pale rusty orange underwing with slightly translucent and more intense coloured secondaries
– AD with tail streamers (on average shorter than in Blue-cheeked Bee-eater)

European Bee-eater Merops apiaster, AD M
BIF2254, 27/05/2017, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, Mathias Putze
– typical bee-eater silhouette
– M is more colourful and cleaner patterned than F

European Bee-eater Merops apiaster, AD M
BIF3275, 08/05/2012, Besh Barmag, Azerbaijan, Micha Heiß
– like a flying arrow

European Bee-eater Merops apiaster, JUV
BIF2255, 05/11/2017, Ethopia, Mathias Putze
– in JUV paler overall appearance
– line between yellow throat and blue body less prominent

European Bee-eater Merops apiaster, JUV
BIF2256, 05/11/2017, Ethopia, Mathias Putze

European Bee-eater Merops apiaster, JUV
BIF3267, 10/08/2012, Azerbaijan, Micha Heiß
– JUV plumage: upperside greyish green and thus similar to Blue-cheeked Bee-eater but note the chestnut cap and the orange brown secondaries with distinctly broader black trailing edge

>> SOUND ID >>>>>
– most often to be heard a simple overslur or broadly modulated overslur
– the overslur is usually not separated in the middle -> Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
– the sound quality is less raspy than in Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
– also in a lower frequency-band
– even (inharmonic) partials

– overview –

– details –
European Bee-eater Merops apiaster, AD, calls in flight
BIF3155, 27/07/2016, Sachsen-Anhalt, Patrick Franke

– overview –
European Bee-eater Merops apiaster, 300 birds, flight calls during migration
BIF3156, 16/09/2019, Batumi, Georgia, Patrick Franke

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Green Bee-eater


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