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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.

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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: 174

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: 94

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

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

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

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

Everyone's Guide to South African Birds - Author: John Sinclair and John Mendelsohn - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 61

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

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

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: 165

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

List of South African Birds

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