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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Little Bee-eater

Afrikaans name: Kleinbyvreter

A Little Bee-eater watches for prey from a perch in Hluhluwe Game Reserve

The beautiful Little Bee-eater

Photo © Steven Herbert

Merops pusillus

The Little Bee-eater is a small but beautiful bee-eater. It is widely distributed across eastern and northern South Africa as well as sub-Saharan Africa.

This species only weighs up to 18 grams and is about 15 cm in length.

Although the Little Bee-eater eats a variety of insects it predominantly eats bees, wasps and hornets.

Most bee-eaters nest in colonies but the Little Bee-eater nests by itself. They make a tunnel in sand banks where roughly 5 eggs are laid. Both male and female Little Bee-eater tend to the eggs and chicks.

Sexes have the same colour plumage. Juveniles are more buffy coloured with no black collar.

This species is found in various habitats including savanna, forest edges, woodland and wetlands.

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References and further reading

A Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: O.P.M. Prozesky - Year Published: 1983 - Page: 175

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

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

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 95

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

Birds of the Transvaal - Author: Tarboton, Kemp and Kemp - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 148

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

Common Birds of the North Coast - Author: Bing Comrie - Year Published: 2005 - Page: 48

Everyone's Guide to South African Birds - Author: John Sinclair and John Mendelsohn - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 17

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

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

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

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

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Dr. Austin Roberts - Year Published: 1949 - Page: 167

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 3rd Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Year Published: 1975 - Page: 278

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Year Published: 1981 - Page: 293

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 386

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1993 - Page: 382

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Year Published: 1993 - Page: 254

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 262

Southern African Bird Names Explained - Author: Charles Clinning - Year Published: 1989 - Page: 86

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

List of South African Birds

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