European Bee-eater

The European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) is a species of bird in the bee-eater family Meropidae. It is found in southern Europe and in parts of north Africa and western Asia. It is highly migratory and winters in tropical Africa, India and Sri Lanka. It is an occasional visitor north of its range and some individuals may breed in northwest Europe.

It is a richly colored and slender bird, like other bee-eaters. It has brown and yellow upperparts, green wings and a black beak. It is 10.5 to 11.5 inches long at adulthood. Sexes are similar. The call is a pleasant distinctive trill.

The diet of the European Bee-eater consists mainly of insects, mostly bees, wasps, and hornets. It hunts in pairs or groups from an open perch. Before eating its catch, the bird will remove the stinger by repeatedly hitting the insect on a hard surface. The European Bee-eater can eat as many as 250 bees daily.

These bee-eaters nest in colonies in sandy banks, usually near river shores, at the beginning of May. They make a long tunnel in which 5 to 8 white eggs are laid near the beginning of June. Both parents care for the eggs, which hatch after about three weeks.

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