Kenya Birds

White-fronted Bee-eater


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White-fronted Bee-eater

Photograph(s) Copyright ©P&H HARRIS

Merops bullockoides

Other Pics: White-fronted Bee-eater Nesting Colony

Other Names

    French GuÍpier ŗ front blanc   German WeiŖstirnspint   Spanish Abejaruco Frentiblanco   Swedish Vitpannad bištare   Dutch Witkruin-Bijeneter   Italian Gruccione frontebianca

World: Africa, South of the equator.

Kenya: Locally common in the West and South-West, mostly in the Rift Valley and nearby plateaux.

The white forehead and square tail make this fairly easy to distinguish even if the bright red patch on the throat isn't visible. They nest in small colonies, digging holes in cliffs or banks of earth but are usually seen in lowish trees waiting for passing insects. A brief stop for a photograph turned into an entire afternoon watching the group above excavate their nests (see alternate photograph).

Their diet is made up primarily of bees (87%) but they also take other flying insects depending on the season and availability of prey. They use 2 hunting methods, either making quick hawking flights from lower branches of shrubs and trees or gliding more slowly down from their perch and hovering briefly to catch insects. They are also occasionally known to follow cars and trucks to pick up the insects disturbed by their passage.

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