Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nubicus & M. nubicoides) Fact Sheet, 2010
Image credit: San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.
Describer (Date): Gelin, 1788
Species: Merops nubicus
Subspecies: Merops nubicus
Body Weight: 34-59 g (1.2-2.1 oz)
Body Length: 24-27 cm (9.5-10.5 in)
Plumage: Brilliant pink and blue; black mask; streamers up to 12 cm (4.8 in)
Beak: Black,moderately long, sharp-pointed, downwards curved
|Distribution & Status||Behavior & Ecology|
Range: Tropical savannas of Africa; two species widely separated in central and southern Africa
Habitat: Tropical, well-watered, warm bushy and woody savannas; river
IUCN Status: Least concern, both species
CITES Appendix: Not listed
Population in Wild: Unknown; population estimates for both species, rough estimate in mid-1980's of 5 million in all.
Migration: Complex three-part annual cycle between higher and lower latitudes for feeding, breeding, nesting
Activity Cycle: Diurnal. After dawn, emerge from nest burrows; perch, preen, and fly as clan groups to feed. Return in late afternoon to socialize and preen; enter burrows for night.
Social Groups: Very gregarious. Form huge breeding colonies with up
Diet: Consume many species of flying insects, especially bees and bee-predators.
Predators: Monitor lizards rob nests. Humans kill birds for their feathers and because they believe these birds pose a threat to bee hives.
|Reproduction & Development||Species Highlights|
Courtship: Aerial pursuits common before nesting time; copulation may
Clutch Size: 2-3 eggs; rarely up to 5
Nest: Usually dug in cliffs; occasionally nest on level ground
Hatchlings: Born blind and naked (altricial) 1-3 days apart; extreme size differences in chicks
Fledgling: 23-30 days; fed for another 6 weeks
Longevity: c. 7 years
Feature This bee-eater often hunts insects by riding on the backs of bustards, storks, heron, cranes, sheep, goats, camels, zebra, wart hogs, and antelope.
Society Press: The San Diego Zoo was the first North American facility to successfully breed White-fronted and Carmine Bee-eaters in captivity.
About This Fact Sheet
© 2010 San Diego Zoo Global. Updated March 2010.
How to cite: Carmine Bee-Eater (Merops nubicus & M. nubicoides) Fact Sheet, 2010. c2010. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. http://ielc.libguides.com/sdzg/factsheets/carminebee-eater. (note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2014 Sep 15)
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