European bee-eater

(Merops apiaster)
Migratory bird. It breeds in Paggaio and overwinters in tropical Africa.
Sophia Siggiridou_Kostas Vidakis, MSc

Distribution of the species

The local breeding population is smaller than the 2% of the national population (about 4,000 pairs). The conservation status of the local population, which is not isolated within its wider distribution range, is considered good. No colony of the species was found in the study area, although this does not rule out the possibility of nesting, as it was observed to feed at the lower altitudes mainly in the south-southeastern part of the area, in open areas of rural and agroforestry areas, where abundant irrigation canals and streams create favorable conditions for high availability of insects.

Description of the species (biological and ecological features)

Colorful, with bright colors and elegant silhouette. Yellow, red, brown, green, blue. Beak curved downwards, with the central wing of the tail elongated like a needle. Suspicious, keeps distance from man. Often seen in herds, sitting in rows on power lines. His presence is betrayed by his voice, a repetitive soft and clear “prrut”. They display altruistic behavior during the breeding season, helping to raise chicks that are not their own.

Migratory bird. It breeds in Paggaio and overwinters in tropical Africa. It is found in open areas, crops, pastures, often near rivers with steep banks. It breeds in colonies, where each pair builds its nest on vertical sandy slopes, often on river banks. It catches its prey in flight, flying high with air slides and short phases of fast fluttering, like a swallow. Insectivorous, it feeds mainly on bees and wasps, but also other insects.

The main threats for the species are poaching and the lack of suitable nest sites. The boxing of rivers and streams results in the loss of the few suitable nest sites. Also, the intensification of agriculture and the extensive use of agrochemicals in crops reduces the availability of food for the species, negatively affecting its populations.

Conservation status

Least Concern.

Conservation state

Protected under the Bern (Appendix II) and Bonn Conventions (Appendix II). Listed as Least Concern in Greece and in Europe, by the Greek Red Data Book and the IUCN correspondingly. Not included in a SPEC category (European species of conservation concern) by BirdLife International.