Family Bee-eaters (Meropidae)

Least Concern

Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater (Merops oreobates)


French: Guêpier montagnard German: Bergspint Spanish: Abejaruco montano

Melittophagus oreobates


, 1892,

Mount Elgon, Uganda–Kenya


Has been placed with other small, rounded-winged species lacking tail-streamers in genus Melittophagus (see M. lafresnayii). Sometimes regarded as forming a species-group with M. variegatus; although some geographical overlap exists between the two, they are segregated altitudinally. M. lafresnayii often treated as conspecific with present species, and this arrangement recently reaffirmed#R; but see that species. Monotypic.


E African highlands: South Sudan–Uganda border (Lolibat and Nangeya Mts); E DRCongo (Lendu Plateau, and S to around Makungu region on W side of L Tanganyika); SW Ugandan highlands S to Mt Mahari in W Tanzania; Mt Elgon on Uganda-Kenya border; and NC Kenya (Mts Kulal, Nyiru and Marsabit, Cherangani Hills, Maralal and Meru) and W & C Kenyan highlands S to N & E Tanzania (Crater Highlands, Kilimanjaro, Arusha National Park, Pare Mts, W Usambara and E Uluguru ranges). Reported sightings from S Ethiopia probably all refer to M. lafresnayii.

Descriptive notes

21 cm; 25–29 g. Green above, with black mask; cheeks white, throat yellow; black pectoral band often bordered above by very narrow dark blue band, some birds with... read more


Overall generally similar to M. pusillus. Commonest call is a short, high-pitched “tseep... read more


Typically occupies wooded hillsides, forest edge, cedar forest, clearings overgrown with bracken... read more

Food and feeding

Three studies in Kenya (near Nairobi) showed that diet consists overwhelmingly of honeybees (Apis mellifera); also eats other... read more


In C Kenya, some clutches in Feb–Apr but large majority in Oct–Jan, in and just after short rains; elsewhere in E Africa Dec... read more


Chiefly resident, but seasonal changes in abundance have been reported at a number of localities,... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Status has not been monitored constantly enough for any long-term changes in population density to have emerged. While species nests in cliff sites... read more

Recommended citation

Fry, H. & Boesman, P. (2019). Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater (Merops oreobates). 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 22 April 2019).