Family Bee-eaters (Meropidae)

Least Concern

Blue-bearded Bee-eater (Nyctyornis athertoni)


French: Guêpier à barbe bleue German: Blaubartspint Spanish: Abejaruco barbiazul

Merops athertoni

Jardine and Selby

, 1828,



Birds from NE India, described as race bartletti, considered inseparable from nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • N. a. athertoni (Jardine & Selby, 1828) – India (Western Ghats, Eastern Ghats, C India to Bastar, S Himalayas and NE peninsula) E to Yunnan and Guangxi#R (S China) and Indochina (except SW).
  • N. a. brevicaudatus (Koelz, 1939) – Hainan I.
  • Descriptive notes

    31–35 cm; male 85–93 g, female 70–91 g. Forehead pale azure-blue; throat feathers long and broad, forming pendent beard, the feathers dark blue, grading to... read more


    Utters a gruff, somewhat roller- or hornbill-like (but more complex and varied) “gga gga ggr... read more


    Occupies middle storey of moist deciduous and thick secondary evergreen forest in foothills... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds mainly on flying insects, especially honeybees, carpenter-bees (Xylocopa), wasps including some measuring up to 4 cm, large... read more


    Clutches found in Assam in Feb–May and Aug (nest excavation may commence as early as Dec), in Nepal in Apr–May and Oct, in... read more


    Resident; in general appears to be sedentary, but seasonal fluctuations in numbers reported in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common in lower Himalayas, W to Kotgarh; sparingly distributed in Myanmar, S along coast to Kyaikkami; uncommon or local in Thailand; two... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fry, H. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Blue-bearded Bee-eater (Nyctyornis athertoni). 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 18 April 2019).