Family Bee-eaters (Meropidae)

Least Concern

Black-headed Bee-eater (Merops breweri)


French: Guêpier à tête noire German: Schwarzkopfspint Spanish: Abejaruco cabecinegro

Meropogon Breweri


, 1859,

Ogobai River, Gabon


Has been placed in monotypic genus Bombylonax on account of its robust bill and some similarities to Meropogon forsteni; its biology, however, is now better known, and it appears to be a typical Merops, although unambiguous genetic support for placement therein currently lacking#R. Monotypic.


S Nigeria (Igalaland Plateau); N Central African Republic (near Ndélé); Gabon, Cabinda (N Angola), Congo and W DRCongo (Kinshasa to Bandundu on R Kasai, N to Bangui and E to Bambili on R Uele, and E to Banalia on R Aruwimi); and NE DRCongo (near Etiga) and SW South Sudan (Bangangai Forest). Formerly also SC Ghana; recorded in Ivory Coast.

Descriptive notes

28 cm (with streamers, up to 6 cm more); 54 g. Head black; back and wings green; tail with long central feathers, upperside green and cinnamon, underside dull dark cinnamon;... read more


Alarm is most frequently heard vocalization, a repeated, insistent “wic” note, somewhat... read more


Forest edge, open secondary growth, plantations, around clearings and dwellings in forest,... read more

Food and feeding

Diet consists of airborne insects, mainly bees and wasps; also chafers, dung beetles and other beetles; a few very large wasps (... read more


In N portion of range excavates burrows in Jan, lays in Feb, with nestlings in Mar–Apr; in S, lays in late Aug and, especially, Sept... read more


Resident or locally migratory. Not usually gregarious, but a flock of 40 in W Congo may have been... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). In most areas regarded as a rarity, but has probably been widely overlooked. Common breeder at Ménengué, in Kouilou... read more

Recommended citation

Fry, H. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Black-headed Bee-eater (Merops breweri). 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 25 April 2019).