Family Bee-eaters (Meropidae)

Least Concern

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus)


French: Guêpier de Perse German: Blauwangenspint Spanish: Abejaruco persa

Merops persica


, 1773,

shores of the Caspian Sea


Forms a species-group with M. philippinus and M. superciliosus (which see), and the three have often been regarded as conspecific. Present species shows striking plumage differences from M. superciliosus, and breeds sympatrically with M. philippinus in N Pakistan and India; in some regards, those two species are more similar to each other than either is to present species. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. p. chrysocercus Cabanis & Heine, 1860 – borders of W Sahara from Morocco to Algeria, perhaps E to Tunisia and W Libya, and from Senegal patchily to L Chad; winters in sub-Saharan W Africa S of 15° N.
  • M. p. persicus Pallas, 1773 – Egypt (Nile Delta), N Israel (irregular), W Jordan and SE Turkey, S to Persian Gulf, and E to N shores of Caspian and Aral Seas, S shores of L Balkhash, N Afghanistan (Hindu Kush) and N & W India (Delhi and Gujarat); winters mainly in E tropical Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    31 cm (with streamers, up to 7 cm more); 38–56 g. A large, slim bee-eater with long wings. Male of nomin­ate race has upperparts grass-green in fresh plumage, wings... read more


    Very similar to that of M. apiaster, but separable with experience: a pleasant rolling... read more


    In summer, occupies desert, semi-desert, steppe, dunes, saline pans, cultivation, thorn woodland... read more

    Food and feeding

    Eats mainly hymenopterans on Asian breeding grounds and mainly dragonflies in Africa; many dragonflies also taken in Asia, on average... read more


    Eggs laid generally in Mar–Jun, but in any one region all birds lay within three weeks of each other, and record of Oct in Mauritania... read more


    A long-distance migrant, moving in small and large flocks, mainly by day, passing on broad front... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally rather common and widespread, and not known to be unduly threatened on breeding or non-breeding grounds. However, NW... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fry, H. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus). 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 23 February 2020).