Family Bee-eaters (Meropidae)

Least Concern

Northern Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nubicus)


French: Guêpier écarlate German: Karminspint Spanish: Abejaruco carmesí norteño
Other common names: Carmine Bee-eater (when lumped with M. nubicoides)

Merops nubicus

J. F. Gmelin

, 1788,



Recent molecular study suggested that present species, M. albicollis and M. malimbicus are each other’s closest relatives#R. Considered identical in voice, ecology, and breeding and migratory habits to M. nubicoides, but latter here accepted as full species (see below). Monotypic.


Senegal E to Eritrea, and S to N Kenya and S Somalia; in austral winter farther S in N tropics and in E Tanzania.

Descriptive notes

24–27 cm (with streamers, up to 9·5 cm); 34–59 g. Distinctive, long-winged bee-eater. Adult has crown, chin, cheeks, rump and uppertail-coverts beryl-green... read more


Most common call is a repeated throaty “rrruk” or “turrr”, given in flight and around breeding... read more


Bushy and wooded savanna, rivers, floodplains with oxbows and stands of trees, pasture and tilled... read more

Food and feeding

Eats a great variety of insects, often grasshoppers and locusts; takes numerous honeybees (Apis) and other hymenopterans; feeds... read more


Lays at start of rainy season at low latitudes, some weeks before it at highest latitudes: in Nigeria, in Apr in S of range and May–... read more


Like M. nubicoides, migrations in N tropics and E Africa ae also three-staged, but with... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Overall population of this species and M. nubicoides estimated at five million birds in 1980s. Locally common along larger rivers throughout... read more

Recommended citation

Fry, H., Boesman, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Northern Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nubicus). 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).