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Asian Green Bee-eater - BirdForum Opus

(Redirected from Merops orientalis)
Nominate Subspecies : breeding pair, male (right) giving food to female
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Basai, Gurgaon, Haryana, India, 24 April 2017
Merops orientalis


16-18cm (6¼-7 in)

  • Green upper parts
  • Head and underpart colours vary according to subspecies
  • Wings with green coverts and rusty flight feathers having a black terminal band
  • Black beak and line through eye
  • Black line separating throat from upper breast
  • Long extensions on central tail feathers

Sexes similar, but female duller


Western birds are mainly green in both head and throat. There is an increasing level of rusty colors in the crown and upperside towards the east and especially in Sri Lanka. Western birds frequently have a narrow blue line under the black eye line, this become more noticeable further east. In the easternmost birds (Indochina) throat becomes yellowish in worn individuals. Underside buffy to whitish in Sri Lanka.


Asia from Iran to Vietnam and south to Sri Lanka.


Juvenile, subspecies M. o. ferrugeiceps
Photo © by Nook
Na Ngua, Phetchabun, Thailand, June 2017


Subspecies M. o. ferrugeiceps
Photo © by nothinghill
Thailand, January 2018

There are 4 subspecies[1]:

  • M. o. beludschicus:
  • From the north end of Persian Gulf to Baluchistan and western India
  • M. o. orientalis:
  • western India (Rann of Kutch) east to Bangladesh and south through the Indian peninsula
  • M. o. ceylonicus
  • M. o. ferrugeiceps:


Around water bodies, river sides, open cultivated areas, scrub forests, parks and gardens, open woodland.



They catch bees and other insects in flight and retun to the same perch to batter them to remove the sting before eating.


Nests are made in a tunnel in sandy banks. The 4 to 8 spherical white eggs are incubated by both the male and the female.


Recording by Alok Tewari
Nazafgarh Wetlands, Gurgaon, Haryana, India, March-2015
A pair, ssp. orientalis, calling while examining a mud-embankment for possible nesting site, early summer-time.


Click on photo for larger image


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2022. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2022. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F, D Donsker, and P Rasmussen (Eds). 2023. IOC World Bird List (v 13.1)_red. Doi 10.14344/IOC.ML.13.1. http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
  3. Kirwan, G. M., H. Fry, and P. F. D. Boesman (2022). Asian Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (G. M. Kirwan, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.grnbee3.01
  4. AvianWeb
  5. BF Member observations

Recommended Citation

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