Family Bee-eaters (Meropidae)

Least Concern

Blue-headed Bee-eater (Merops muelleri)


French: Guêpier à tête bleue German: Saphirspint Spanish: Abejaruco cabeciazul oriental

Meropiscus Mülleri


, 1857,

Muni River, Gabon


Formerly sometimes placed with M. gularis in genus Meropiscus. Has been placed with other small, rounded-winged species lacking tail-streamers in genus Melittophagus (see M. lafresnayii). Previously considered conspecific with M. mentalis (which see). Kenyan population has been described as race yalensis, but now considered indistinguishable. Monotypic.


S Cameroon and N Gabon to E DRCongo, also W Kenya.

Descriptive notes

19 cm (with streamers up to 3 cm more); 24–33 g. Male has pointed white forehead feathers, pale blue crown, purple-blue nape, black sides of head; red chin feathers... read more


Rather silent. Song is a medley of well-spaced notes, some strident or piercing, others soft and... read more


Lowland rainforest, often within forest interior, but also around clearings and glades, along paths... read more

Food and feeding

Prey includes honeybees, ichneumons, ants, other hymenopterans, butterflies, moths, orthopterans, beetles and tabanid flies, all taken on... read more


Probably breeds about Jan–May in W Kenya, while in Gabon a pair was seen nestbuilding in Oct and flying young in Feb. Perhaps employs... read more



Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Sparse to locally common in former Zaire and quite common in Gabon. Range of outlying population in Kenya has contracted; formerly recorded at... read more

Recommended citation

Fry, H., Boesman, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Blue-headed Bee-eater (Merops muelleri). 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).