Description

Bluecheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus) is a Palearctic migrant breed in Eurasia/South Asia and North Africa. This little cute bird spends the nonbreeding season in the tropics and sub- tropics of sub-Saharan Africa. The subspecies (M. p. chrysocercus) breeds on the fringes of the Western Sahara and migrates to West Africa, whereas persicus breeds from the Nile Delta to the Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan.
The nominate race spends the non-breeding season in savanna habitats from southern Sudan and Ethiopia to sub-near Cape Town for a period of three months. Vagrants of this highly mobile species may occur anywhere in the African region. The blue-cheeked bee-eater is a brightly colored bird found in open habitats in Africa/Asia and Arabia. They are about 15 cm long and have a long tail. Blue-cheeked bee-eaters are known for their aerial antics. They often fly high above tree tops in search of insects. When they spot a meal, they dive down at lightning speed to snatch it up.
When birders hear the Blue cheeked bee eater call they know summer is in full swing.
When birders hear the Blue cheeked bee eater call they know summer is in full swing.
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Call
When birders hear the bluecheeked bee-eater call, they know summer is in full swing. They typically migrate to warmer climates during the winter months. The blue-cheeked bee-eater call is a high-pitched whistle that can be heard from a distance. It’s used to communicate with other members of the flock and usually indicates that the bird is in search of food.

It is a high-flying migrant, and individuals could be confused with migrating European Bee-eaters (M. apiaster,)’ vocalizations are also similar, but calls of the latter are lower pitched. When perched, however, this brightly colored species is unmistakable except for juveniles, which can be confused with Olive Bee-eaters (M. superciliosus). It is normally gregarious and vocal and its habit of hawking from exposed perches near water makes it conspicuous.
This bird has a distinctive call which is used by males to attract females. The male’s call consists of two notes, one higher than the other. The first note lasts for around 0.5 seconds and is followed by a longer second note. The lower note is more frequent and lasts for about 1 second.

Habitat:

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater is colorful slender bird of desert edge in the breeding areas; it prefers to hunt over or near water in southern Africa. By far the highest reporting rates were in the arid woodland regions of the Okavango, and the Makgadikgadi Pans area of the Northern Kalahari. Large numbers occur in the Okavango Delta and on the Chobe, Kavango, Zambezi and Kunene rivers in Botswana, northeastem Namibia, and western Zimbabwe.
Movement: Arrival is fast and synchronized throughout the region, beginning in mid-October and peaking in early November. Departure is also synchronized over the region from late March, but mostly during April, with some birds staying into May. There are no confirmed records from the region during the austral winter. Blue-cheeked bee-eaters live in groups of 2 to 20 birds. They nest in holes in trees or rocks.
The blue-cheeked bee-eater call is a high-pitched whistle that can be heard from a distance.
The blue-cheeked bee-eater call is a high-pitched whistle that can be heard from a distance.
lnterspecific relationships: Blue-cheeked bee-eater is passerine bird in the family, Meropidae. Its range overlaps partially with all seven other bee-eaters in southern Africa. It is most likely to compete with Olive, Carmine M. nubicoides and Whitefronted M. bullockoides Bee-eaters, which also prefer riparian habitat. These species often occur together near larger rivers and swamps when feeding on flying insects. Contact with the European Bee-eater, which prefers dry woodland, is less frequent.

Historical distribution and conservation:

The range does not seem to have changed, but that a population concentration is present in northern and eastern Botswana and the Caprivi is new information. The secondary concentration in the upper Limpopo River catchment benefits from artificial wetlands such as dams and sewage works. The Blue-cheeked Bee-eater is widespread and common and is not known to be under any particular threat while in the region.
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Call is a distinctive call which is used by males to attract females.
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater Call is a distinctive call which is used by males to attract females.

Sub-species

So, far two subspecies are recognized:
  • Merops persicus chrysocercus – This specie breeds in North Africa, winters in West Africa.
  • Merops persicus persicus – This species breeds in Asia, winters in East and Southern Africa.

Life Span

The birds have a very short lifespan and only live for 3 years. They breed from January to March.

Diet

Its main food is ants but it can also eat termites, beetles, caterpillars and many others. They eat mainly insects, which they catch in the air.

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