Blue-cheeked bee-eater

   ›      ›   Blue-cheeked bee-eater - Merops persicus.

The blue-cheeked bee-eater (Merops persicus) is a near-passerine bird belonging to the family of bee-eaters, Meropidae.

These bee-eater species are distributed in northwest India, parts of West Asia, northern and central Africa. The blue-cheeked bee-eater species predominantly eat flying insects, which are caught in the air. There are two recognized subspecies of these bee-eaters.

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

Blue-cheeked bee-eater - Overview

  • Scientific name: Merops persicus
  • Species author: Pallas, 1773
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Merops persica Pallas, 1773
  • Family: Meropidae › Coraciiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Blue-cheeked bee-eater, Chinese: 蓝颊蜂虎, French: Guêpier de Perse, German: Blauwangenspint, Spanish: Abejaruco persa, Russian: Зелёная щурка, Japanese: ルリホオハチクイ, Arabic: القارية زرقاء الخدين
  • Other names: Bluecheeked Bee-eater
  • Distribution: northwest India, parts of West Asia, north and central Africa
  • Diet and feeding habits: dragonflies, bees, wasps, hornets
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The blue-cheeked bee-eater (Merops persicus) is closely related to olive bee-eater (Merops superciliosus) and Merops philippinus. The two recognized subspecies of Merops persicus are: M. p. chrysocercus Cabanis & Heine, 1860 and M. p. persicus Pallas, 1773.

Appearance, physical description and identification

The blue-cheeked bee-eater (Merops persicus) is a richly-colored, slender bird, measuring 30 cm (excluding streamers) in length and weighing about 40 to 55 grams. The overall plumage of these blue-cheeked bee-eater species is green. The cheek region has bluish patch. There is a black eye stripe which originates from the base of the bill, passes through to eyes and extends a little further.

There is a yellowish patch on the chin region and a brownish orange patch on the throat. The central tail feathers are elongated into tail-streamers. Both the sexes look alike, but the tail-streamers are shorter in females.

The black bill is slightly down curved. The feet are grayish. The wings are long. The irises are dark brown. The underparts are paler. The blue-cheeked bee-eater call is a burry "prreee" or "prruup" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Blue-cheeked bee-eater - Merops persicus
Birds of India - Image of Blue-cheeked bee-eater - Merops persicus
Birds of India - Photo of Blue-cheeked bee-eater - Merops persicus
Indian birds - Picture of Blue-cheeked bee-eater - Merops persicus by Francesco Veronesi
Indian birds - Image of Blue-cheeked bee-eater - Merops persicus
Birds of India - Photo of Blue-cheeked bee-eater - Merops persicus by Derek Keats

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The blue-cheeked bee-eater species are distributed in northwest Africa, Egypt, parts of Middle East, parts of West Asia and northwestern parts of Indian subcontinent. The wintering population occurs in central Africa.

In India, the blue-cheeked bee-eater occur in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

Ecosystem and habitat

These blue-cheeked bee-eater species are not normally forest dependent. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 2200 meters. They inhabit various desert, savanna, grassland and wetland ecosystems.

These blue-cheeked bee-eater species during the breeding season inhabit desert with a few trees, semi-desert, steppe, dunes, saline pans, thorny woodland and sandy slopes.

The wintering, non-breeding bee-eaters occupy a wide variety of habitations. The blue-cheeked bee-eater inhabit tropical and subtropical dry deciduous forests, subtropical and tropical grasslands, temperate grasslands, dry savanna, marshes, swamps, peatlands and permanent and seasonal freshwater lakes.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these blue-cheeked bee-eater species is mostly flying insects. Honeybees, dragonflies, wasps, hornets and large beetles are their primary food. They occupy an open perch and the prey are caught in the air by sorties. After returning to the perch, the prey is killed by beating it on the perch.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of the blue-cheeked bee-eater species is from March to June in Africa. They breed in loose colonies. The birds in one location, lay eggs within three weeks of each other.

The blue-cheeked bee-eater nest is one to two meters long tunnel, ending in a large incubation chamber. The nest is excavated into slopping grounds, vertical sandy banks, embankments or low sandy cliffs. The sand is loosened with jabs of the bill and the loosened sand is kicked out by the feet.

The blue-cheeked bee-eater clutch has seven to eight spherical white eggs. Both the parents incubate the eggs during the day and female alone incubates them at night. The bee-eater chicks hatch out after 24 days of incubation. The chicks are fed by the parents.

Migration and movement patterns

The blue-cheeked bee-eater is a migrant bird. These blue-cheeked bee-eater species breed in tropical and subtropical sandy deserts. The breeding populations occur in northwest Africa, Egypt, parts of Middle East, parts of West Asia and northwestern parts of Indian continent. The blue-cheeked bee-eater migrate to central Africa for wintering in open woodlands or grasslands.

Post breeding, the bee-eater juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the blue-cheeked bee-eater (Merops persicus) has not been quantified. The overall population size of these bee-eater species is considered to be stable. Throughout its range it is reported to be rare to fairly common. The generation length is 6.2 years. Their distribution size is about 30,800,000

The blue-cheeked bee-eater (Merops persicus) 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 impacts posed by agricultural development and also disturbances at the nesting sites are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these 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 blue-cheeked bee-eater (Merops persicus).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Merops persicus
Species:M. persicus
Binomial name:Merops persicus
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Image source:
Image author: Clpramod | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
2.Image source:
Image author: Francesco Veronesi | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 (as on 11/02/17)
3.Image source:,_Merops_persicus,_Chobe_National_Park,_Botswana_(32364460141).jpg
Image author: Derek Keats | License: CC BY 2.0 (as on 11/02/17)
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