Similar foot structure (3 forward-facing toes, two partially fused) formed the basis for the earliest classifications of this bird Order. (Sibley & Ahlquist 1990).
Little diversity in body shape, size, plumage in Meropidae (bee-eater) species, but much diversity in ecological and behavioral traits. (Marks et al 2007)
Several taxonomic solutions for higher level classification above the level of family for these birds:
Two main clades exist for bee-eaters species, according to genetic studies (Marks et al 2007)
The bee-eaters are most closely related to kingfishers, rollers, motmots, and todies. (Hackett et al 2008)
The Carmine Bee-eater subspecies are sometimes given separate species status but given that they are identical in voice, ecology, breeding and migratory habits, Fry (2001) considers their slight plumage and morphology differences better suited for subspecies designation.
Ancestral birds in the suborder Coracii have recently been recognized in North America from 50 million year-old rocks (Eocene); birds in this group do not exist in North America today (Clarke et al 2009).
Bee-eater-like birds, along with their close relatives, kingfisher-like, and roller-like birds lived in France some 40 million years ago (Eocene). (Fry 2001)
The Blue-bearded Bee-eater (Nyctyornis athertoni) of Asia is believed to be the sister taxon (or closest relative) of all other bee-eaters (Marks et al 2007).
Order: Coraciiformes (bee-eaters, hornbills, rollers, hoopoes, kingfishers and others)
Family: Meropidae (bee-eaters)
Species: Merops bullockoides - White-fronted Bee-eater
Describer (Date): Smith, 1834. White-fronted Bee-eater
Clarke et al (2009)
Fry (1969, 1984, 2001)
Hackett et al (2008)
Marks et al (2007)
Price & Emerson (1977)
Sibley & Ahlquist (1990)
Sibley & Monroe (1990)