Swallow-tailed Bee-eater..

Swallow-tailed Bee-eater (Merops hirundineus)

This bird is easily discernable from the other bee-eaters because of it’s forked tail. It can reach a length of 20–22 cm, including the long forked green or blue feathers. Sexes are the same.

This is a specie which prefers somewhat more wooded country than most bee-eaters. Just as the name suggests, bee-eaters predominantly eat insects, especially bees, wasps and hornets, which are caught in the air by sorties from an open perch. Swallowtail has a preference for honeybees.

They nest in the ground in river banks, with a long tunnel, where they lay 2 – 4 eggs. This bird is one of my difficult birds, I struggle to get good pictures of them, due to their flying off the perch just as I take the photo and I end up with a picture of a tree or wire fence. But here are a few I have managed to get.. not too good due to being in a hurry before they fly off…


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Have you seen our webcams that are operational in the game parks called Africam? try it to see animals in their natural habitat. Here is a screen shot I took the other day…

Capture 2


45 thoughts on “Swallow-tailed Bee-eater..

  1. This bird really fascinates me. Do you have any of the same concerns about honey bee colony collapse/decline in bee population that we have here in the States? We are desperately trying to preserve our bees, and I don’t know of any natural predators, just humans and pesticides. I am curious how the bee catchers fit into your ecology. They must serve a purpose? He’s a beauty, and your photos are lovely, I think…love the one with the two on the wire! Something didn’t work well with the Africam–maybe something international–I’ll go to the World Wildlife site and see if I can access it. I would love that

    • We do not have the same problem with our bees.. they are not declining in number.. but then we do not have the same amount of GMO seeded plants in this country that you have there… and the over use of pesticides, herbicides etc is going to have massive consequences in the future..
      The GM problem is something I’ve written articles on, and as an ex green keeper, I am fully aware of the effects of herbicides fungicides and pesticides have on the environment.. I don’t want to get started here, but the USA with their Monsanto and the like pushing for protective legislation is going to damage your country no end…
      we only have to look to history to the use of DDT for mosquito control for malaria and such.. what do we have now? Just as much Malaria and a stronger strain of the disease than ever before… and the DDT is still lying around as it never disappears or has one long life…
      I see a drastic decline of a lot of things in the future.. where do bees fit in? one of the most important insects for plant life… no bees and an awful lot of plants are going to disappear as well…

  2. These pictures are absolutely amazing! I love the second one with the bee in the bill 😀 Most of my bird shots are picture of trees, fences or empty sky! 😀

  3. A really pretty bird and your photo’s are excellent, Bulldog! Re the webcams I loved watching the live feed of a pair of eagles sitting on their eggs, hatching them and feeding the babies – both mom and dad taking it in turns. I spent days watching, it was so interesting.

  4. They are beautiful with the green and yellow shades …. doesn’t look like a swallow .. more like a mini parrot. A truly beautiful bird. We don’t have much colors on our brides .. wonder why. I think male ducks are the most colorful we have. Nice caught with the lunch in his beak.

  5. Such a distinct looking birdie this is. Yes – brave to swallow bees with sharp stingers!!! I love the idea of the Africam – that is exactly perfect for what we were discussing re: zoos. Your images are wonderful here…my favorite is #2 ~what posers these 2 were for you!! x Love to all – Robyn

  6. I think birds are some of the toughest little creatures to capture. You always manage to do a great job Bulldog. This little guy has some beautiful markings.

  7. Oh wow bulldog! They are gorgeous and you captured them so well my friend! Thanks for sharing the beauty around you. I love it! 🙂 *big hugs*

    • Thanks Sherry .. much appreciate the complement… good to see you across on Street Articles as well… just doing a bit of article writing for the software there…

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