European Bee-eater

European Bee-eater, Bijeneter, Bienenfresser, Abelharuco-comum, Abejaruco comun

Spotted on Monte Horizonte in the Alentejo region of Portugal                        European Bee-eater sound

The European Bee-eater, Merops apiaster, is a near passerine bird in the bee-eater family Meropidae. 

European Bee-eater, Bijeneter, Bienenfresser, Abelharuco-comum, Abejaruco comun

It breeds in southern Europe and in parts of north Africa and western Asia. It is strongly migratory, wintering in tropical Africa, India and Sri Lanka. This species occurs as a spring overshoot north of its range, with occasional breeding in northwest Europe.

This species, like other bee-eaters, is a richly-coloured, slender bird. It has brown and yellow upper parts, whilst the wings are green and the beak is black. It can reach a length of 27-29 cm, including the two elongated central tail feathers. Sexes are alike.

This is a bird which breeds in open country in warmer climates. 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. Before eating its meal, a European Bee-eater removes the sting by repeatedly hitting the insect on a hard surface. It eats some 250 bees daily.

These bee-eaters are gregarious, nesting colonially in sandy banks, preferably near river shores, usually at the beginning of May. They make a relatively long tunnel in which the 5 to 8, spherical white eggs are laid around the beginning of June. Both the male and the female take care of the eggs, which are brooded for about 3 weeks. These birds also feed and roost communally.

The call is a pleasant distinctive trill.

Other synonyms:

Afrikaans: Europese Byvreter
Asturian: Abeyeru
Breton: Ar gwespetaer-boutin
Catalan: Abellerol
Catalan (Balears): Abellerol
Czech: Vlha pestrá
Welsh: Gwybedog y gwenyn
Danish: Biæder
German: Bienenfresser, Europäischer Bienenfresser
English: Bee-eater, Eurasian Bee-eater, European Bee Eater, European Bee-eater, Golden Bee-eater
Spanish: Abejaruco, Abejaruco Comun, Abejaruco Común, Abejaruco Europeo
Estonian: Mesilasenäpp
Basque: Abellerol, Erlatxoria
Finnish: Mehiläissyöjä
Faroese: Býflugubítur
French: Guêpier d’Europe
Irish: Beachadóir Eorpach
Galician: Abellaruco, Abellerol
Croatian: Pcelarica
Hungarian: Gyurgyalag
Icelandic: Býsvelgur
Italian: Gruccione, Gruccione comune, Gruccione europeo
Japanese: yoaroppahachikui, yo-roppahachikui
Cornish: Gwenynessor
Latin: Merops apiaster
Lithuanian: Bitininkas
Latvian: Bišu dzenis
Dutch: Bijeneter
Norwegian: Bieter
Portuguese: Abelharuco, abelharuco comum, Abelharuco-comum, Abelharuco-europeu
Romansh: Magliavieuls
Russian: Zolotisatya Shchurka
Shona: Gamanyuchi
Albanian: Gargulli
Serbian: Pcelarica
Swedish: Biätare
Swahili: Kerem wa Ulaya, Polohoyo
Tswana: Morôkapula
Tsonga: Tinziwolana


Travel Birdwatching Holiday Alentejo, Vacation Portugal for birders to see birds on your tours and trips.

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Guided Birdwatching in the Alentejo region of Portugal