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African Green Bee-eater - BirdForum Opus

Subspecies cleopatra
Photo © by mikasuncle
Egypt, April 6, 2011
Merops viridissimus


16-18 cm, a green bird with long extensions of central tail feathers.
Mostly green to bronzy-green with a black line through eye and a narrow black band separating throat from upper breast. May have bluish tint on cheeks. Wings ochraceous with black ends to flight feathers. Female slightly less strongly marked, juvenile significantly less strongly with e.g., nearly white rear belly.

Subspecies viridissimus
Photo © by volker sthamer
Gambella, Ethiopia, December 9, 2010


Africa north of the equator and south of the Sahara to the Nile valley of Egypt.


Formerly was considered the same species as Asian Green Bee-eater and Arabian Green Bee-eater.


Subspecies viridissimus
Photo © by volker sthamer
Gambella, Ethiopia, December 9, 2010

Three subspecies are recognized[1].

  • M. v. viridissimus :
  • M. v. flavoviridis:
  • Subdesert steppes of Chad to Red Sea coast of Sudan
  • M. v. cleopatra:
  • Nile Valley (Lake Nasser to delta)


Prefers dry to semidry areas with trees and scrubs


This species is partly migratory, especially the northern populations. Other populations are also dispersive.

Food consists of flying insects captured by sallies from a perch. Often gregarious.


A dry, rolling rattle which descends in pitch, and a tic sound has been described.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2022. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2022. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F, D Donsker, and P Rasmussen (Eds). 2023. IOC World Bird List (v 13.1)_red. Doi 10.14344/IOC.ML.13.1. http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
  3. Kirwan, G. M., H. Fry, and P. F. D. Boesman (2022). African Green Bee-eater (Merops viridissimus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (G. M. Kirwan, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.grnbee1.01

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