Merops albicollis (*)
Merops albicollis Vieillot, 1817
Nouveau Dictionnaire d'Histoire Naturelle Appliquée Aux Arts, principalement à l'Agriculture et à l'Economie rurale et domestique par une société de naturalistes et d'agriculteurs, avec des figures tirées des trois règnes de la nature. 14 p.15
The White-throated Bee-eater, Merops albicollis is a near passerine bird in the bee-eater family Meropidae. It breeds in semi-desert along the southern edge of the Sahara, Africa. The White-throated Bee-eater is migratory, wintering in a completely different habitat in the equatorial rainforests of Africa from southern Senegal to Uganda.
This species, like other bee-eaters, is a richly-coloured, slender bird. It is predominantly green, but its face and throat are white with a black crown, eye stripe, and neckband. The underparts are pale green shading to blue on the breast. The eye is red and the beak is black.
The White-throated Bee-eater can reach a length of 19-21 cm, excluding the two very elongated central tail feathers, which can exceed an additional length of 12 cm. They weigh between 20 and 28 grams. Sexes are alike. The call is similar to European Bee-eater.
The White-throated Bee-eater is a bird which breeds in dry sandy open country, such thorn scrub and near-desert. These abundant bee-eaters are gregarious, nesting colonially in sandy banks or open flat areas. They make a relatively long 1-2 m tunnel in which the 6 to 7 spherical white eggs are laid. Both the male and the female take care of the eggs, but up to five helpers also assist with caring for the young.
White-throated Bee-eaters also feed and roost communally. As the name suggests, bee-eaters predominantly eat insects, especially bees, wasps and hornets, which are caught in the air by sorties from an open perch. However, this species probably takes mainly flying ants and beetles.
Widespread and common throughout its large range, the White-throated Bee-eater is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
* BirdLife International (2004). Merops albicollis. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 10 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
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