White-throated bee-eater (Merops albicollis)

Author: Bibitayo Ayobami Owolabi. Department of Wildlife and Ecotourism Management. Osun State University, Osogbo, Nigeria. bibitayo.owolabi@uniosun.edu.ng. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0136-6720

The white-throated bee-eater (Merops albicollis) is a near passerine bird (land birds) belonging to the family Meropidae alongside other bee-eater species. Merops albicollis are migrant birds. The migratory white-throated bee-eater spends the winter in the equatorial rain forests of Africa, in a very different environment.

Description.

This species, like other bee-eaters, is a richly-colored, slender bird with a very long tail streamers with a very conspicuous black and white head pattern. The underparts are pale green shading to blue on the breast. The eye is red and the beak is black. They are very gregarious with a pleasing melodious call.

Breeding and Nesting.

The white-throated bee-eater prefers a thorn scrub and near-desert, dry sandy open habitat for its breeding. The gregarious bee-eaters build colonial nests in sandy banks or wide flat areas. Laying 6–7 spherical white eggs in a relatively long 1–2 m tunnel. The eggs are cared for by both the male and female, but the young are also cared for by up to five helpers.

Feeding

White-throated bee-eaters feeds and roost in groups. Bee-eaters, as the name implies, feeds on insects, particularly bees, wasps, and hornets, which they catch in the air from an open perch (Figure 1). This species, on the other hand, is most likely to feed only on flying ants and beetles.

Figure 2: White-throated bee-eater (Merops albicollis) perching a tree. (Photos: B. Owolabi).

Status.

The white-throated bee-eater is widespread and abundant over its enormous range, and is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

References.

BirdLife International (2016). “Merops albicollis”IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22683714A92997462. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22683714A92997462.en

Borrow, N. & Demey, R. (2010) Birds of Western Africa. Christopher Helm, London.

Elgood, J.H., Heigham, J.B., Moore, A.M., Nason, A.M., Sharland, R.E. & Skinner, N.J. (1994) The Birds of Nigeria. 2nd ed., British Ornithologists’ Union, Tring

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