Southern carmine bee-eater

Southern carmine bee-eater
Merops nubicoides

Photo by Mike Rolfe (Pixdaus)

Common name:
southern carmine bee-eater (en); abelharuco-róseo-do-sul (pt); guêpier carmin (fr); abejaruco carmesí del sur (es); karminspint (de)

Order Coraciiformes
Family Meropidae

This species is found breeding from southern Angola, through Zambia, Zimbabwe and northern Botswana, and into south-western Mozambique. Outside the breeding season they range as far south as north-eastern South Africa and as far north as central D.R. Congo, Rwanda and north-western Tanzania.

These birds are 24-27 cm long, plus an extra 12 cm if the tail streamers are considered. They weigh 50-70 g.

The southern carmine bee-eater is mostly found in savannas, scrublands, floodplains and swamps with scattered trees, favouring areas surrounding rivers and lakes. They can also be found in mangroves, pastures and arable land.

They forage mainly on the wing, feeding on large flying insects including termite alates, cicadas, shield bugs, dragonflies, butterflies and locusts.

These birds are monogamous, living in large colonies of up to 1.000 pairs. They can breed all year round, with a peak in September-October. The nest is excavated by both sexes, consisting of a long tunnel ending in an unlined nest chamber which is usually dug into sandy riverbanks, ditches or sloping ground. The female lays 1-6 white eggs which are incubated by both sexes for 11-13 days. The chicks are raised by both parents and fledge 11-20 days after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as locally common. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and it they are also shot by farmers who consider them pests.

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