Merops bullockoides A. Smith, 1834, Marico River, South Africa. Sometimes considered a subspecies of M. bullocki. Monotypic.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
French: Guêpier à front blanc; German: Weissstirnspint; Spanish: Abejaruco Frentiblanco.
8.5-9.5 in (22-24 cm); 1-1.4 oz (28-38 g). Upperparts and wings are blue-tinged green; underparts are buff; thighs and undertail coverts are blue; spread tail is green above and blackish below. White forehead, cheeks, and chin are sharply defined from the black mask and red throat.
Occurs south of the forested Congo basin across the breadth of Africa. Locally common north along the Rift Valley in Kenya to Lake Turkana, and on the west side of Lake Tanganyika north to Rwanda.
Occupies wooded savannas.
Among the most social of all bee-eaters, roosting and breeding in large colonies (up to 400 nests) and interacting in extended family groups throughout its life. Sedentary in Kenya, but may
move widely during the non-breeding season in the southern range.
Family groups or clans defend foraging territories up to 4.5 mi (7 km) from the roosting/breeding colony. Within territories, members of the clan spend most of the time spaced apart on favorite perches, from which they make sallies for insect prey.
Throughout most of the range, breeding begins at the end of the dry season, August to October. In Kenya, where there are two somewhat unpredictable rainy periods, egg-laying may begin in October to November, or April to May, but any given population breeds during only one season. Clutch size is two to five eggs.
Cooperative breeding is common. Sixty percent of nests have one or more helpers (up to five), usually males.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦
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