The European bee-eater (Merops apiaster) is a near passerine bird (Coraciiformes) from the family of bee-eaters (Meropidae). It nests in Europe, Asia and Africa. It is a widespread bird, avoiding forest and mountainous areas, it common in lowland areas, its nest is built near wetlands, plains and hilly areas. The nest is usually built in cracks and loess walls. Being migratory, in Romania we will see them between the months of May and September.
It is a colorful bird, the body length is 27-29 cms, wingspan 44-49 cm, weigth 44-78 grams. The male is slightly bigger than the female, but their feathers are identical. The underparts are blue-green, the head has a vivid reddish-brownish color with a black eye stripe, the neck is yellow.
The nest built in steep walls, the whole can be as long horizontally as 2 meters, but it is always carved in such a way that the nesting bird can see out. During the mating season the male feeds the female. The female lays 6-7 eggs, the chicks hatch in 20-22 days, in 30 days they fly out of the nest.
The European bee-eater feeds – as its name suggests – on bees and other insects. Due to its preference to eat bees, humans often kill the birds or stuff their nest.
The European population is estimated to 480 thousand – 1 million nesting pairs, the number of Romanians is considered to be between 15 to 20 thousand pairs. The oldest ringed European bee-eater was 5 years old.