European Bee-eater Merops apiaster


Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN Red list criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- - -

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2016 Least Concern
2014 Least Concern
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern
Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Low
Land mass type Average mass 57 g

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 55,700,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 12,800,000 medium
Number of locations -
Severely Fragmented -
Population and trend
Value Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals 14000000-25999999 poor estimated 2012
Population trend Stable suspected -
Decline (3 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (5 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation future) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation past and future) - - -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Percentage in largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 6.5 - - -

Population justification: In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 2,800,000-5,050,000 pairs, which equates to 5,600,000-10,100,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms approximately 40% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 14,000,000-25,250,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification: Declines may be occurring in parts of the range owing to loss of suitable prey due to widespread application of pesticides, loss of nesting sites through canalisation of rivers, increasing agricultural efficiency and establishment of monocultures, development of wilderness areas and shooting for sport, for food and because it is considered a crop pest (Fry and Boesman 2014). The population trend in Europe from 1989-2013 was uncertain (EBCC 2015), however the short-term trend is estimated to be stable (BirdLife International 2015). The population in South Africa appears to be declining (Fry and Boesman 2014).

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Resident Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Afghanistan N Extant Yes
Albania N Extant Yes
Algeria N Extant
Angola N Extant
Armenia N Extant Yes
Austria N Extant Yes
Azerbaijan N Extant Yes
Bahrain N Extant Yes
Belarus N Extant Yes
Belgium N Extant Yes
Benin N Extant
Bosnia and Herzegovina N Extant Yes
Botswana N Extant
Bulgaria N Extant Yes Yes
Burkina Faso N Extant
Burundi N Extant
Cameroon N Extant
Cape Verde V Extant
Central African Republic N Extant
Chad N Extant
China (mainland) N Extant Yes
Congo N Extant
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the N Extant
Côte d'Ivoire N Extant
Croatia N Extant Yes
Cyprus N Extant Yes Yes
Czechia N Extant Yes
Denmark N Extant Yes Yes
Djibouti N Extant
Egypt N Extant
Eritrea N Extant
Estonia V Extant
Eswatini N Extant
Ethiopia N Extant
Finland N Extant Yes
France N Extant Yes Yes
Gabon N Extant
Gambia N Extant
Georgia N Extant Yes
Germany N Extant Yes Yes
Ghana N Extant
Gibraltar (to UK) N Extant Yes
Greece N Extant Yes Yes
Guinea N Extant
Guinea-Bissau N Extant
Hungary N Extant Yes Yes
Iceland V Extant
India N Extant Yes
Iran, Islamic Republic of N Extant Yes Yes
Iraq N Extant Yes Yes
Ireland V Extant
Israel N Extant Yes
Italy N Extant Yes Yes
Jordan N Extant Yes Yes
Kazakhstan N Extant Yes
Kenya N Extant
Kuwait N Extant Yes
Kyrgyzstan N Extant Yes
Latvia N Extant Yes
Lebanon N Extant Yes Yes
Lesotho N Extant
Liberia N Extant
Libya N Extant
Liechtenstein V Extant
Luxembourg V Extant
Madagascar V Extant
Malawi N Extant
Maldives V Extant
Mali N Extant
Mauritania N Extant
Moldova N Extant Yes Yes
Montenegro N Extant Yes
Morocco N Extant
Mozambique N Extant
Namibia N Extant
Netherlands N Extant Yes
Niger V Extant
Nigeria N Extant
North Macedonia N Extant Yes
Norway V Extant
Oman N Extant Yes Yes
Pakistan N Extant Yes
Palestine N Extant Yes Yes
Poland N Extant Yes
Portugal N Extant Yes
Qatar N Extant Yes
Romania N Extant Yes
Russia N Extant Yes Yes
Russia (Central Asian) N Extant Yes
Russia (European) N Extant Yes Yes
Rwanda N Extant
Saudi Arabia N Extant Yes
Senegal N Extant
Serbia N Extant Yes
Seychelles V Extant
Sierra Leone N Extant
Slovakia N Extant Yes
Slovenia N Extant Yes
Somalia N Extant
South Africa N Extant
South Sudan N Extant Yes
Spain N Extant Yes Yes
Sri Lanka N Extant Yes
Sudan N Extant
Sweden N Extant Yes
Switzerland N Extant Yes
Syria N Extant Yes Yes
Tajikistan N Extant Yes
Tanzania N Extant
Togo N Extant
Tunisia N Extant
Turkey N Extant Yes
Turkmenistan N Extant Yes
Uganda N Extant
Ukraine N Extant Yes Yes
United Arab Emirates N Extant Yes Yes
United Kingdom N Extant Yes
Uzbekistan N Extant Yes
Western Sahara N Extant
Yemen N Extant Yes
Zambia N Extant
Zimbabwe N Extant

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
Azerbaijan Sheki upland
Belarus Kaz'jany
Cyprus Larnaca Salt Lakes
Cyprus Akhna dam
Cyprus Phasouri reedbeds
Romania Cârja - Maţa - Rădeanu - Roşcani
Romania Satchinez marsh
Romania Mures river lower flood-plain
Romania Mehedinti fish-ponds-Gârla Mare
Slovenia Reka valley
Slovenia River Mura
Slovenia Goričko
Poland Tysmienica river valley
Greece River Axios
Greece Axios, Loudias and Aliakmonas rivers' deltas
Greece Mesolongi and Aitoliko lagoons, Acheloos delta and Evinos estuary
Greece Mount Ochi and surrounding marine area
Greece East Lakonia mountains
Greece Lakes Chortarolimni and Alyki, Moudros gulf, Diapori fen and Fakos peninsula, Limnos
Greece Evrotas delta
Greece Thasos island and Xironisi islet
Greece Lake Stymfalia
Greece Islands and islets of northern Sporades and northwestern coast of Alonnisos
Greece Kythira island
Greece Dionysades islets, Crete
Greece Antichasia mountains and Meteora
Greece Lake Agras
Greece Aliakmonas gorge
Greece Kalamaki gorge and Zarkou mountains
Greece Mount Othrys
Greece Apsalos and Moglenitsa gorges
Greece Kato Olympos, Tempi gorge and mount Ossa
Greece Filiouri valley and eastern Rodopi mountains
Greece Kompsatos valley
Greece Pineios delta
Greece Megalo and Mikro Livari lagoons, Istiaia
Greece Artzan reservoir
Greece Mount Falakro
Greece Mount Mavrovouni, Larisa
Greece Southwestern Lesvos and Petrified forest
Greece Gera gulf, Ntipi and Charamida marshes, Lesvos
Greece Paros and Antiparos islands and surrounding islets
Greece Tilos island and surrounding islets
Greece Mount Kantili
Greece Acherontas gorge and estuary
Greece Mountains of Naxos
Greece Tzena and Pinovo mountains
Greece Amvrakikos gulf
Greece Asvestades - Vrysika area
Greece Evros delta
Greece Astypalaia island and surrounding islets
Greece Kalloni Gulf, Lesvos
Greece Mati wetland of Tyrnavos
Greece Spercheios valley and delta and Maliakos gulf
Greece Mount Koutroulis, Mount Agios Dikaios and Modia plateau, Crete
Greece Mount Voras (Kaïmaktsalan)
Greece Mount Beles (Kerkini)
Greece Mount Krousia (Mavrovouni and Dysoro)
Greece Lake Kerkini
Greece Lake Ismarida (Mitrikou)
Greece Mount Pangaio
Greece Nea Fokaia marshes
Greece Lakes Cheimaditis and Zazari
Greece Porto Lagos, lake Vistonida and coastal lagoons
Greece Mount Menoikio
Greece Nestos delta and coastal lagoons
Greece Nestos gorge
Greece Psara and Antipsara islands and surrounding islets
Greece Tyrnavos area
Greece National Park of Dadia - Lefkimi - Soufli forest
Greece Lavreotiki peninsula and Patroklos islet
Greece South forest complex of Evros prefecture
Greece Dadia - Dereio - Aisymi forest
Greece Geropotamos estuary, Crete
Greece Lakes Volvi, Koroneia and Rentina Gorge
Greece Central Rodopi mountains and Nestos valley
Hungary Pacsmag Lakes of Regöly
Hungary Vértes
Hungary Alkaline pusztas of Upper Kiskunság
Hungary Borsodi-Mezőség
Hungary Ipoly Valley
Hungary Danube bend
Hungary Heves Plain
Hungary Upper Tisza
Hungary Lower Tisza Valley
Hungary Szatmár-Bereg
Hungary Inner Somogy
Hungary Tápió valley
Russia (European) Vorono-Khoperski area
Russia (European) Khoper Nature Reserve
Russia (European) Lower Urushten river
Russia (European) Dedinovo flood-plain of Oka river
Spain North and east coasts of Minorca and island of Aire
Spain Ravines and pinewoods in central Minorca
Spain Cogul-Alfés steppes
Spain Llobregat delta
Spain Mountains of Barcelona
Spain Lerida steppes
Spain Cortados del Jarama
Spain Guadalentín saltmarshes
Spain Muela mountain range and Cape Tiñoso
Spain Tierra de Campos steppes
Spain Sierra Nevada mountain range
Spain Córdoba countryside
Spain Isla Cristina and Ayamonte marshes and Prado lagoon
Spain Ceuta
Spain Bajo Alcanadre-Serreta de Tramaced
Spain Cinca river rice fields and steppe area
Spain Turia canyon and Los Serranos
Spain Rivers Cabriel and Júcar canyons
Spain Marina mountain ranges
Spain La Safor and North Alicante mountain ranges
Spain Enguera mountain range-La Canal de Navarrés
Ukraine Rzhyschivs'ke Game Reserve
Ukraine Cape Martiyan
Ukraine Dniprovs'ko-Oril's'kyj Nature Reserve
Ukraine Velykomykhailivskyj forest
Ukraine Lyman lake
Ukraine Bagerove
Ukraine Samars'kyj forest
Ukraine Izyums'ka Luka forest
Ukraine Dereluj river valley
Ukraine Molochna river valley
France Val d'Allier Bourbonnais
France Sologne Bourbonnaise
France Vallée de la Loire: Pit majeur d'Iguerande à Décize
France Barthes de l'Adour
France Vallée du Régino
France Basse Vallée du Doubs : Dole Sud
France Hautes garrigues du Montpellierais
France Etangs de Canet et de Villeneuve-de-la-Raho et embouchure du Tech
France Plaine des Maures
France Bois de Palayson, du Rouet et de Malvoisin
France Marais de la Souche
France Ile de la Platière
France Barrage d'Artix et Saligue du Gave de Pau
France Vallée de la Durance : de Tallard à Sisteron
Italy Mount Beigua
Italy Piave river
Italy Taro river
Italy Ortazzo and Ortazzino
Italy Lake Bracciano and surrounding areas
Italy Tolfa hills
Italy Circeo National Park
Italy Litorale Romano
Italy Stirone stream
Italy Scrivia stream
Italy Ponziane islands
Italy River Po from Dora Baltea mouth to Scrivia mouth
Italy River Po: from the mouth of Adda river to Ostiglia
Italy Selva del Lamone
Italy Capri island
Gibraltar (to UK) Rock of Gibraltar
Serbia Subotica lakes and sandy terrain
Serbia Becej fish-pond
Serbia Jegricka
Serbia Fruska gora
Serbia Danube loess bluffs
Serbia Pašnjaci Velike Droplje
Georgia Iori Region
Serbia Carska bara
Serbia Deliblatska pescara
Slovakia Poiplie
Slovakia Slanské hills
Slovakia Medzibodrožie
Slovakia Burda
Slovakia Jurský Chlm
Slovakia Streda nad Bodrogom
Serbia Labudovo okno
Serbia Derdap gorge
Serbia Mala Vrbica
Armenia Khosrov Reserve
Italy Trebbia river (lower course)
Austria North-eastern Leithagebirge
Austria March/Thaya riverine forest
Austria Western Weinviertel
Austria Lösslandschaft and Wagram east of Krems
Austria Parndorfer Platte and Heideboden
Austria Heideboden
Germany Wagbach lowlands
Germany Rhine flats Sasbach - Wittenweier
Germany Kaiserstuhl
Germany Stromberg
Ukraine Tsybul'kivs'ki lakes
Ukraine Karachunivs'ke reservoir
Ukraine Agricultural lands near Bilorets'ke (Chornozemne village)
Ukraine Gajchur river valley
Ukraine Kakhovs'ke reservoir (Kajiry village)
Ukraine Kakhovs'ke reservoir (Vasylivka village)
Ukraine Kakhovs'ke reservoir (Energodar)
Ukraine Velyka Osokorovka
Ukraine Berezans'kyj lyman and Solonets Tuzly pond
Russia (European) Laman-Kam area
Russia (European) Berkubinski forest
Russia (European) Bryansko-Zhizdrinskoye woodland
Russia (European) Kiziltash limans
Russia (European) Khanskoye Lake
Russia (European) Moksha flood-plain in vicinity of Krasnoslobodsk
Russia (European) Irgaklinski forest
Russia (European) Lower of Small Kugulta River
Russia (European) Leninsk forest area
Russia (European) Sviyago-Kubninskaya forest-steppe
Russia (European) Samarskaya Luka
Bulgaria Atanasovsko Lake
Bulgaria Kresna Gorge
Bulgaria Srebarna
Bulgaria Kaliakra
Bulgaria Galata
Bulgaria Batova
Bulgaria Bakarlaka
Bulgaria Vrachanski Balkan
Bulgaria Sredna Gora
Bulgaria Besaparski Hills
Bulgaria Kamenski Bair
Bulgaria Western Rhodopes
Bulgaria Western Strandzha
Bulgaria Karlukovski Karst
Bulgaria Arda Bridge
Bulgaria Melnik Pyramids
Bulgaria Dobrostan
Bulgaria Slavyanka Mountain
Bulgaria Trigrad-Mursalitsa
Bulgaria Mikre Meadows
Bulgaria Vasilyovska Mountain
Bulgaria Maritsa-Parvomay
Bulgaria Studenets
Bulgaria Svishtov-Belene Lowland
Bulgaria Malak Preslavets marsh
Bulgaria Zvanichevo Fish-ponds
Bulgaria Hadzi Dimitrovo Fish-ponds
Bulgaria Zlato Pole
Bulgaria Belite Skali
Bulgaria Obnova Fish-ponds
Bulgaria Devetashko Plateau
Bulgaria Ruy Mountain
Bulgaria Emine
Bulgaria Ropotamo Complex
France Pointe de Grave
France Etang de Biguglia
France Marais de Fontenay-le-Vicomte et d'Itteville
France Montagne de la Clape
France Etangs Montpellierains
France Camargue
France Marais entre Crau et Grand Rhône: Meyranne, Chanoine, Plan de Bourg et Salins du Caban
France Iles d'Hyères
France Préalpes de Grasse
France Col de l'Escrinet
France Marais de la Baie d'Audierne
France Vallée de la Loire : La Charité-sur-Loire
France Etang d'Urbino et zones humides périphériques
France Massifs de Fontainebleau et zones humides adjacentes
France Etang du Bagnas
France Moyenne Vallée de la Durance
France Val d'Allier : Saint-Yorre-Joze
Bulgaria Provadiysko-Royaksko plateau
Russia (European) Sura environs
Russia (European) Flood-plain of Algashka river (Kirsko-Algashinskaya)
Russia (European) Shcherbakovskaya bend of Volga river
Russia (European) Kaluzhskiye Zaseki Nature Reserve
Russia (European) Floodplain of Moksha river and Common Crane autumn aggegation near villages Khohlikha and Shaprikha
Russia (European) Floodplain of Rudnya river and surroundings
Bulgaria Zlatiata
Bulgaria Ludogorie
Bulgaria Nikopolsko Plateau
Bulgaria Adata-Tundzha
Bulgaria Stenata
Austria Surroundings of Mattersburg
Austria Southern Seewinkel and Zitzmannsdorfer Wiesen
Italy Magredi of Pordenone
Austria Lower Kamp valley
Austria Central Marchfeld
Austria Salzach valley
Ukraine Serednyotomakivske reservior
Ukraine Voloshans'ka dacha
Ukraine Sinelnikov Complex
Italy River Po: from Ticino mouth to Boscone island
Italy Ticino river
Lebanon Fnaideq Forest
Russia (European) Yangiyurtovski reserve and Bakas fen
Italy Marengo heronry
Lebanon Jabal Almat
Lebanon Qammouaa
Cyprus Karpasia Peninsula - Kleides Islands
Cyprus Akrotiri Peninsula - Episkopi Cliffs
Cyprus Pafos Plain
Cyprus Akamas and Agia Aikaterini – Agia Paraskevi Gorges
Russia (European) Floodplain of Ilek river near Pokrovka
Lebanon Jabal Moussa Mountain
Russia (European) Vedeneevsk pine forest
Germany Kraichgau near Wiesloch
Kyrgyzstan Tulek Valley
Poland Forest at Drawa River
Poland Augustów forest
Poland Nida Rivar Valley
Poland Solska Forest
Poland Tyszowce Site
Poland Upper Huczwa River Catchment
Poland Beskid Zywiecki Mountains
Poland Grzeda Sokalska Beechwood
Poland Mircze Site
Slovenia Krakovo forest and Šentjernej plain
Slovenia Spodnja Sava
Cyprus Cape Greco
Cyprus Ezousa Valley and Cliffs
Serbia Titelski breg
Kazakhstan Sorbulak Lake System
Greece Thessaly plain
Kazakhstan Kyzylkol Lake
Kazakhstan Lesser Aral Sea
Kazakhstan Syrdarya Delta Lakes
Bosnia and Herzegovina Duvanjsko polje
Bosnia and Herzegovina Lušci polje
Bosnia and Herzegovina Nevesinjsko polje
Bosnia and Herzegovina Dabarsko and Fatničko Karstic Fields
Bosnia and Herzegovina Popovo polje
Bosnia and Herzegovina Mostarsko Blato

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Artificial/Terrestrial Arable Land suitable breeding
Artificial/Terrestrial Arable Land suitable non-breeding
Artificial/Terrestrial Pastureland suitable breeding
Artificial/Terrestrial Pastureland suitable non-breeding
Artificial/Terrestrial Plantations suitable breeding
Forest Temperate suitable breeding
Grassland Subtropical/Tropical Dry suitable breeding
Grassland Temperate suitable breeding
Savanna Dry suitable non-breeding
Shrubland Mediterranean-type Shrubby Vegetation suitable breeding
Shrubland Subtropical/Tropical Dry suitable breeding
Shrubland Temperate suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha) suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls) suitable breeding
Altitude 0 - 2400 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Food - human - - Non-trivial Recent
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - International Non-trivial Recent
Sport hunting/specimen collecting - - Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Merops apiaster. Downloaded from on 27/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/03/2023.