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White-fronted Bee-eater (Merops bullockoides) Fact Sheet: Summary

White-fronted Bee-eater (Merops bullockoides) Fact Sheet

a white fronted bee eater on a branch
White-fronted Bee-eater (Merops bullockoides)


Taxonomy Physical Characteristics

Describer (Date): Smith, 1834

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Coraciiformes

Family: Meropidae

Genus: Merops

Species: Merops bullockoides

Body Weight: 28-38 g (0.1-1.3 oz)

Body Length: 21.5-23.5 cm (8.5-9.3 in)

Plumage: Dull white forehead,
black mask, white chin and cheeks,
scarlet throat, buff breast and belly,
green wings and tail, scarlet throat;
no streamers.

Beak: Black; sharp-pointed, downwards

Distribution & Status Behavior & Ecology

Range: Tropical southern Africa

Habitat: Wooded savannas, sandy
cliffs; African grassland and open
scrub of Kenya.

IUCN Status: Least Concern (2016 assessment)

CITES Appendix: not listed

Population in Wild: Increasing

Migration: Do not migrate

Activity Cycle: Diurnal; after dawn emerge
from nest burrows; perch, preen, fly
as clan groups to feed; return late
afternoon to socialize, preen; enter
burrows for night

Social Groups: Form colonies; monogamous,
cooperative breeding with helpers.

Diet: Flying insects, especially bees
and predators on bee.

Predators: Snake, lizard, mongoose,
and swift nest robbers;honeyguide nest
parasitizing birds kill embryos and their
young kill nest mates.

Reproduction & Development Species Highlights

Sexual Maturity. Adult plumage at 6 months.

Courtship: Lengthy - often 6-8 weeks;
occurs at roosting colongy and on feeding territory.

Clutch Size: 2-5 eggs; nests w/helpers have
most eggs.

Nest: Burrow excavated in cliff face;
1-2 m (3.3-6.6 ft) long ending with
20 cm (7.9 in) long brood chamber

Hatchlings: Born blind and naked (altricial)

Fledging: At around 29 days for well-fed
chicks; can be delayed if not enough food.

Typical Life Expectancy:
Wild populations: about 5–6 years

Featured Facts

  • Nest colonially; perhaps the most complex "bird society" known
  • Monogamous; pair for life
  • Nest in cliff faces
  • Cooperative breeders. Individual may switch between roles as "breeding parent" and "non-breeding helper" many times throughout their lifetime.
  • Strong family bonds. Remember those in their "social network."
  • Feed 300 times per day!
  • San Diego Zoo has raised more than 100 bee-eater chicks

About This Fact Sheet

© 2010-2018 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Updated 2015; minor updates 2016. IUCN Status verified Jun 2018.

How to cite: White-fronted Bee-eater (Merops bullockoides) Fact Sheet. c2010-2018. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. white-frontedbee-eater
(Note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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