Family Bee-eaters (Meropidae)

Least Concern

Southern Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nubicoides)


French: Guêpier carmin German: Scharlachspint Spanish: Abejaruco carmesí sureño

Merops nubicoides

Des Mus and Pucheran

, 1846,

Port Natal (Durban); error = Crocodile River, Mpumalanga, South Africa


Considered identical in voice, ecology, and breeding and migratory habits to M. nubicus, but accepted as species here on account of pink vs blackish-turquoise chin, throat and submoustachial area (3); turquoise of crown shaded greener (1); iris black vs red (2); undertail grey to dark grey vs yellowish-grey (ns[1]); vanes in tail visibly broader (not measured, but at least 1); central tail feathers markedly longer (effect size 3.07) (2). Monotypic.

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

S Angola, extreme NE Namibia (Caprivi Strip) and S Zambia E to S Malawi and C Mozambique; spends austral winter N to Burundi and S to NE South Africa (N KwaZulu-Natal).

Descriptive notes

24–27 cm (with streamers, up to 12 cm more); 44·5–66 g. Previously treated as conspecific with M. nubicus (see Taxonomy comments), but M. nubicoides is... read more


No known differences from M. nubicus.


Apparently identical preferences to those of M. nubicus. Recorded to 1770 m in Zambia and... read more

Food and feeding

No known differences from M. nubicus, although tends to use large ground-dwelling birds as beaters to flush winged insects from... read more


No known differences from M. nubicus. Lays at start of rainy season at low latitudes, some weeks before it at highest latitudes:... read more


Three-stage migration: arrives on breeding grounds in Aug–Sept, and after breeding disperses S into... read more

Status and conservation

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

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Southern Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nubicoides). 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).