Family Bee-eaters (Meropidae)

Least Concern

Ethiopian Bee-eater (Merops lafresnayii)


French: Guêpier de Lafresnaye German: Hochlandspint Spanish: Abejaruco etíope
Other common names: Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater

Merops lafresnayii


, 1843,



Has been placed with other small, rounded-winged species lacking tail-streamers in genus Melittophagus, also including M. bullockoides, M. bulocki, M. oreobates, M. variegatus, M. pusillus, M. gularis and M. muelleri (and forms previously included within these species). Sometimes lumped with M. variegatus or M. oreobates, and recently shown to be much closer to and hybridizing with latter#R, but differs from both: from variegatus in its rich blue forehead and supercilium (3), slightly darker belly (1), much broader dark tailband (usually twice width) (at least 1), much larger size (effect size for wing 4.43, for tail 4.74; score 2); and from oreobates in its rich blue forehead and supercilium (3), rich blue, not black, upper breastband (3), buffy-yellow basal secondaries and basal outer tail (2), barely discernible greyish vs distinct white narrow tips of secondaries (ns), with unknown-width zone of apparent intergradation or hybridization in N & W Kenya#R (score 1). Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

Eritrea, Ethiopia and E South Sudan.

Descriptive notes

18–21 cm; 19·5–28·4 g. Generally similar to the smaller M. variegatus, with which previously regarded as conspecific (see Taxonomy comments) and also M.... read more


Song or greeting call is a rhythmic phrase with a repeated three-note pattern. All notes reach a... read more


Inhabits lightly wooded grassy hillsides with open juniper and Podocarpus woodland,... read more

Food and feeding

Few known differences from M. variegatus, or indeed M. pusillus, but compared to latter the present species probably... read more


Few details. Breeds mainly in Jan–Apr in Ethiopia, but eggs also in Oct. Nests solitarily and in monogamous pairs. Excavates tunnel in... read more


Apparently largely resident and sedentary.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Frequent to common in prime habitat in many parts of range. Widely distributed south of 17º 30’ N in Ethiopia and Eritrea, but there are very few... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2020). Ethiopian Bee-eater (Merops lafresnayii). 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 24 February 2020).