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Swallow-tailed Bee-eater - BirdForum Opus

Subspecies hirundineus
Photo by Mybs
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa (1,200 km's NW of Cape Town), September 2005
Merops hirundineus


Subspecies chrysolaimus
Photo by d.flack
Gambia, March 2018

23 cm (9 in)

  • Green upperparts
  • Blue rump
  • Black eyestripe with bluish-white lower edge
  • Yellow throat with blue lower gorget
  • Green breast
  • Black beak

Sexes are alike.


Sub-Saharan Africa:
Western Africa: found in Senegambia, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola
Eastern Africa: Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi
Southern Africa: Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal


Four subspecies are recognised[1]:

  • M. h. chrysolaimus:
  • M. h. heuglini:
  • M. h. furcatus:
  • M. h. hirundineus:


Mature savanna woodlands.



Their diet consists of bees, wasps, hornets, butterflies and grasshoppers which are caught in the air. They feed and roost communally.


They nest in sandy banks, or similar flat ground. They make a relatively long tunnel in which the 2 to 4 spherical, white eggs are laid. They nest either alone or with 2 or 3 other pairs in close proximity.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Avibase
  3. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved Apr 2018)

Recommended Citation

External Links

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