Family Bee-eaters (Meropidae)

Least Concern

African Green Bee-eater (Merops viridissimus)


French: Guêpier vert German: Afrikasmaragdspint Spanish: Abejaruco esmeralda africano

Merops viridissimus


, 1837,



Usually treated as conspecific with M. cyanophrys and M. orientalis, but has very long, narrow vs mid-long, less narrow central tail feathers (effect size against next longest, orientalis, 2.85, score 2); distinct apple-green vs strongly turquoise-blue tinged throat and underparts (2); yellower-green vs bluish-green uppertail (1); bronzy-buff vs (buffy-)green primaries and secondaries (2). Birds from NE Chad E to Red Sea coast of Sudan sometimes separated as race flavoviridis, but detected differences in throat colour might be the result of plumage being very fresh or worn. Two subspecies currently recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. v. cleopatra Nicoll, 1910 – Nile Valley in Egypt and (probably this race) N Sudan.
  • M. v. viridissimus Swainson, 1837 – Senegal E through Sahel to Eritrea.
  • Descriptive notes

    16–18 cm (with streamers, up to 10 cm more); 14·5 g. Previously considered conspecific with both M. orientalis (of S & SE Asia) and M.... read more


    No reported differences from M. orientalis.


    Arid woodland with scattered trees on mainly bare soil or sand, and Acacia, Commiphora... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds mainly on Hymenoptera, also beetles, termites, bugs, moths and many flies, ranging in size from fruit-flies (Drosophila) to... read more


    Comparatively few data. Eggs laid Apr (Egypt), Apr–Jun (Senegambia), Mar–May (Mali), Mar–Apr (Nigeria), with nestlings recorded in late Apr... read more


    Disperses widely post-breeding, with most obvious migrations noted from Egypt’s Nile Valley with... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common to fairly common over whole of vast range (especially in Nile Valley and Faiyum Oasis close to Cairo). In early 20th... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). African Green Bee-eater (Merops viridissimus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 19 May 2019).