Family Bee-eaters (Meropidae)

Least Concern

White-throated Bee-eater (Merops albicollis)


French: Guêpier à gorge blanche German: Weißkehlspint Spanish: Abejaruco gorjiblanco

Merops albicollis


, 1817,



Has sometimes been placed together with M. boehmi in genus Aerops, as both species combine long outer primary with some characters of small Melittophagus group (see M. bullockoides) and with some features of large Merops species. Systematically rather isolated, with no obvious close relatives; possibly closest to M. revoilii. Recent molecular study suggested that present species, M. malimbicus and M. nubicus are each other’s closest relatives#R. Separation of E populations as race major on grounds of longer bill and wing considered unwarranted. Monotypic.


Breeds from Mauritania and Senegal to Eritrea, SW Saudi Arabia and W Yemen, and S to NW Kenya and, erratically, S Kenya; spends non-breeding season in W Africa and Congo Basin.

Descriptive notes

20 cm (with streamers, up to 12 cm more); 20–32 g. Black crown and mask, contrasting with white face, even in juvenile; can raise crown feathers. Adult male has white... read more


Most common call, typically given by birds in group, is a repeated bright burry “prrr-weee....prrr-... read more


Breeds in very sparsely wooded subdesert steppe, sandy wastes, wadis, laghs and arid thorn-scrub;... read more

Food and feeding

Ants make up 35–90% of diet; also eats honeybees (Apis), other hymenopterans, beetles, bugs, flies, dragonflies, damselflies... read more


Breeds over ephemeral rains in Jun–Aug on borders of Sahara; in Mar–May in Kenya. Nests solitarily or in small, loose colonies... read more


A long-distance intra-tropical migrant, travelling in noisy flocks by day, conspicuously, and seen... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common over most of breeding range, and frequent or locally abundant in derived savanna and above rainforest outside breeding season... read more

Recommended citation

Fry, H. & Boesman, P. (2019). White-throated Bee-eater (Merops albicollis). 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 25 April 2019).