Kenya Natural History Guide >>> Birds >>> Bee-Eaters >>> Little Bee-eater

Little Bee-eater

Merops pusillus

Little Bee-eater, Merops pusillus, photo © by Michael Plagens

Amboseli National Park, Kenya. 27 March 2011.

This is a very common bee-eater and indeed a common and conspicuous bird in much of Kenya. From From Wikipedia: It is resident in much of sub-Saharan Africa. It should not be confused with the Little Green Bee-eater, Merops orientalis. Migration is limited to seasonal movements depending on rainfall patterns. This species, like other bee-eaters, is a richly coloured, slender bird. It has green upper parts, yellow throat, black gorget, and rich brown upper breast fading to buffish ocre on the belly. The wings are green and brown, and the beak is black. It reaches a length of 15–17 cm, which makes it the smallest African bee-eater. Sexes are alike. Often silent, their call is a soft "seep". This is an abundant and tame bird, familiar throughout its range. There have been estimated to be between 60-80 million Little Bee-eaters. It breeds in open country with bushes, preferably near water. 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. This species often hunts from low perches, maybe only a metre or less high. Before eating its meal, a bee-eater removes the sting by repeatedly hitting the insect on a hard surface. Unlike most bee-eaters, these are solitary nesters, making a tunnel in sandy banks, or sometimes in the entrance to an Aardvark den. They lay 4 to 6 spherical white eggs. Both the male and the female take care of the eggs. These birds roost communally, lined up on a tree branch.

Meropidae -- Bee-eater Family

Books:

  • Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania by Zimmerman et al.
  • Birds of East Africa by Stevenson and Fanshawe

More Information:


Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 22 June 2012,
updated 29 Sept. 2016.