Sunday, February 5

Asian green bee-eater

   ›      ›   Asian green bee-eater - Merops orientalis.

The Asian green bee-eater (Merops orientalis) belongs to the family of bee-eaters, Meropidae.

These bee-eater species are distributed in Indian subcontinent, southern China, mainland southeast Asian countries and Iran. These bee-eater species are characterized by colorful plumage, slender bodies and elongated central tail feathers. There are four recognized subspecies of the Asian green bee-eater.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Asian Green Bee-eater Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Asian green bee-eater - Overview

  • Scientific name: Merops orientalis
  • Species author: Latham, 1801
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Merops orientalis Latham, 1801, Merops viridis Neumann, 1910
  • Family: Meropidae › Coraciiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Asian green bee-eater, Chinese: 绿喉蜂虎, French: Guêpier d’Orient, German: Asiensmaragdspint, Spanish: Abejaruco esmeralda oriental, Russian: Малая зелёная щурка, Japanese: ミドリハチクイ, Tamil: Pachai Panchuruttan
  • Other names: Little green bee-eater, small bee-eater
  • Distribution: Indian subcontinent, southern China, Mainland Southeast Asian countries, Iran, Afghanistan
  • Diet and feeding habits: flying insects, grasshoppers, crickets, locust, cicadas, moths, butterflies, honeybees, wasps, flies, beetles
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The Asian green bee-eater (Merops orientalis) is closely related to M. viridissimus, M. cyanophrys, M. leschenaulti and M. viridis. The four recognized subspecies of Merops orientalis are: Merops orientalis beludschicus Neumann, 1910, Merops orientalis orientalis Latham, 1801, Merops orientalis ceylonicus Whistler, 1944 and Merops orientalis ferrugeiceps J. Anderson, 1879.

Appearance, physical description and identification

The Asian green bee-eater (Merops orientalis) is a small, slender, brightly colored greenish bird, measuring 15 to 20 cm in length and weighting 15 to 25 grams.
The Asian green bee-eater nominate subspecies have overall greenish plumage. The chin and the throat are greenish blue. The crown, nape and upper back are light rufous brown. The central tail feathers are nearly 7 cm long and prolonged into blunt pins. The flight feathers are greenish washed with rufous tinge. A fine black line runs from the base of the bill, through the eye and beyond the eye.

The bill of Asian green bee-eater species is black, slender, long and slightly curved. The irises are brown. The legs are dark gray and the three toes are joined at the base. There is a conspicuous black necklace. Large groups of birds roost in selected trees. Their call is a nasal "tree-tree-tree" sound.
Birds of India - Asian green bee-eater - Merops orientalis
Indian birds - Image of Asian green bee-eater - Merops orientalis
Indian birds - Asian green bee-eater - Merops orientalis
Birds of India - Picture of Asian green bee-eater - Merops orientalis
Birds of India - Picture of Asian green bee-eater - Merops orientalis
Indian birds - Photo of Asian green bee-eater - Merops orientalis
Indian birds - Asian Green bee-eater - Merops orientalis
Birds of India - Image of Asian green bee-eater - Merops orientalis

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The Asian green bee-eaters are distributed in Indian subcontinent, southern China, mainland southeast Asian countries and Iran. Vagrant birds are observed in Afghanistan and Bhutan.

The Asian green bee-eater subspecies M. o. beludschicus is distributed in Iran, Pakistan and northwest India (Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir). The subspecies M. o. orientalis is distributed in most of India (except northwest and northeast India) and Bangladesh.

The Asian green bee-eater subspecies M. o. ceylonicus is distributed in Sri Lanka. The subspecies M. o. ferrugeiceps is distributed in northeast India, southern China (Yunnan), Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

Ecosystem and habitat

The Asian green bee-eater species have low forest dependency. They inhabit lowland and dry ecosystems. These bee-eater species inhabit farmlands, pastures, plantations, rural gardens and urban parks. These bee-eater species occur in altitudes 0 to 2500 meters.

In natural environments, these bee-eaters inhabit dry savanna, hot desert, arid woodlands, tropical dry shrublands, dry plains with scattered trees, subtropical dry shrublands, riverside habitats, oases and freshwater springs.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these Asian green bee-eater species is mostly flying insects. Insects like grasshoppers, locusts, cicadas, moths, beetles, honeybees, wasps, flies and flying ants and termites are the primary food. They also feed occasionally on crabs.

The bee-eater species perch on open tree branch or cable and launch into air after the flying insect. On catching the prey, they return to the same perch. They repeatedly thrash the insect on the perch to remove its sting and venom before swallowing.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these Asian green bee-eater species is from February to May in most of its range. They usually nest in loose colonies, on the river bunds, earth banks and mounds. They excavate horizontal tunnels up to two meters deep. The end of the tunnel is expanded into a nest chamber.

These Asian green bee-eater species lay four to seven spherical and glossy white eggs in the unlined nest. Both the parents incubate the eggs. The eggs hatch after 14 days. Both the parents take care of the hatchlings and feed them. The bee-eater juveniles fledge in about 25 days.

Migration and movement patterns

The Asian green bee-eater is considered to be partially migrant.
The exact movement pattern of Asian green bee-eater is not clear. The northmost populations move from their breeding grounds and migrate southwards for wintering. They also appear to make seasonal movements in response to rainfall.

The southern populations are resident. Post breeding dispersal of the bee-eater juveniles takes place. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the Asian green bee-eater (Merops orientalis) has not been quantified. The overall population size of these species is considered to be increasing. Throughout its range it is reported to be fairly common. The generation length is 6.2 years. Their distribution size is about 11,600,000 sq.km.

The Asian green bee-eater (Merops orientalis) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion. The overuse of pesticides and the resultant drastic reduction in the insect population is the main threat that may endanger the survival of these Asian bee-eater species.

IUCN and CITES status

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the bee-eater species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the Asian green bee-eater (Merops orientalis).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Merops orientalis
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Coraciiformes
Family:Meropidae
Subfamily:-
Genus:Merops
Species:M. orientalis
Binomial name:Merops orientalis
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bee-eaters-01.jpg
Image author: Sunil Elias | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
2.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Green_Bee_Eater_Catch.jpg
Image author: AshishTripurwar | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
3.Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Green_Bee-eater_(Merops_orientalis)_in_Tirunelveli.jpg
Image author: K Hari Krishnan | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
4.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Can_it_or_not.jpg
Image author: ARIJIT MONDAL | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
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