The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

European Bee-eater

Afrikaans name: Europese byvreter

European Bee-eater

Above - European Bee-eater

Photo © Steven Herbert

Merops apiaster

During the South African summer the European Bee-eater visits and may be quite common in some areas. It can be found over most of South Africa during summer but, strangely, it doesn’t occur in an area between Port Elizabeth and just north of Durban. During our winter these birds head back to southern areas of Europe and Russia.

Although most of these birds are just visitors to our country there are some pairs that breed. They nest in a tunnel that may be up to 2 metres in length. They lay between 2 and 6 eggs.

Although they are a Bee-eater by name they are not quite so restricted in their diet. Besides bees and wasps they will catch other insects such as butterflies, dragonflies, grasshoppers and termites in flight.

European Bee-eaters are virtually always seen in flocks although the flock may be scattered over a wide area with one or two birds perched on a bush or tree. They prefer habitats that offer them plenty of perches such as bushveld or savanna.

References and further reading

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Published: 2011 - Page: 260

Southern African Bird Names Explained - Author: Charles Clinning - Published: 1989 - Page: 85

Southern African Wildlife - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1989 - Page: 171

The Birds of South Africa - Author: Hazel Stokes - Published: 1979 - Page: 28

The Birds of South Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Dr. Austin Roberts - Published: 1949 - Page: 165

The Sandton Field Guide - Author: Sandton Nature Conservation Society - Published: 1982 - Page: 52

Wild About Johannesburg - Author: Duncan Butchart - Published: 1995 - Page: 48

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Published: 2011 - Page: 126

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Published: 1993 - Page: 378

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Published: 1993 - Page: 252

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 4th Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1981 - Page: 290

Ian Sinclairs Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair - Published: 1988 - Page: 180

Newmans Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 1984 - Page: 246

Newmans Birds of Southern Africa - 7th Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 2000 - Page: 246

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 2nd edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1957 - Page: 214

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 3rd Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1975 - Page: 275

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Published: 1985 - Page: 381

Birds of the Transvaal - Author: Tarboton, Kemp and Kemp - Published: 1987 - Page: 146

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Published: 1999 - Page: 44

Everyones Guide to South African Birds - Author: John Sinclair and John Mendelsohn - Published: 1987 - Page: 61

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Published: 1991 - Page: 126

Field Guide to the Cradle of Humankind - Author: B. Hilton-Barber & Prof. L. R. Berger - Published: 2004 - Page: 182

Birds of the South Western Cape - Author: Joy Frandsen - Published: 0 - Page: 138

Birds of the Transkei - Author: C.D. Quickelberge - Published: 1989 - Page: 76

Bird Atlas of Natal - Author: Digby Cyrus and Nigel Robson - Published: 1980 - Page: 163

Birds of Southern Africa - Kruger National Park - Author: Kenneth Newman - Published: 1985 - Page: 132

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Published: 1987 - Page: 94

A First Guide to South African Birds - 6th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Published: 1959 - Page: 100

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Published: 1975 - Page: 100

A Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: O.P.M. Prozesky - Published: 1983 - Page: 174

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