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Merops apiaster

warning Vulnerable
VU (C1)

Contributed: Yoav Perlman, Asaf Mayrose, Tuvia Kahn, Rei Segali, Noam Weiss, Lior Kislev, Ezra Hadad, Yuvak Dax, Yifat Artzi, Amir Balaban
Update Time: Jan. 1, 2011, 7:39 a.m.

The European Bee-eater is classified as Vulnerable (VU) because of the continued decrease in its population and range. Its rate of decrease is estimated at more than 10% over 3 generations (19.5 years). In the previous edition of the Red Book (2002), it was classified as Vulnerable (VU). The lack of change in its status reflects the continuing decline in the number of individuals and range.
VU Current Regional Assessment | VU Previous Regional Assessment | LC Global Assessment

Habitats Mediterranean Batha, Semi-desert Batha, Parks & Woodlands, Shrubland, Loess Ravines
Presence In Israel Summer, Migrant
Breeding In Israel Breeder
Migration Types Long Range
Zoographical Zones Mediterranean, Irano-Turanian
Landscape Types Plains & Valleys, Wide Wadis, Rural Area
Vegetation Types Mediterranean Garrigue, Steppe
Vegetation Densities Low
Nest Locations Mountainside
Diet Types Invertebrate
Foraging Grounds Aerial
Body Sizes Small (up to 500g)
Threat Factors Pesticide Poisoning, Habitat loss and fragmentation, Direct disturbance from human activity, Tree planting

The European Bee-eater is a common summer visitor and breeder in small colonies in the Mediterranean and steppe regions, in the Galilee and the Golan Heights, Judea and Samaria, the Jordan Valley and the Northern Negev. In the past, it was a more common summer breeder, but in the 1950s, its population decreased considerably, apparently because of extensive pesticide use. Most of the impact occurred west of the national watershed. During the last two decades the declining trend continues, mainly due to development, plantings and expansion of agricultural areas.

The European Bee-eater nests in the Mediterranean and steppe regions. Habitat includes open landscapes, such as pastures, wide wadis, hills with scattered trees, often near water. It is a colonial nester that digs its nesting burrows in earth walls.

Habitat modification – shrubland (Batha and Garrigue) areas used by bee-eaters for foraging have decreased, and nesting sites, particularly in kurkar (calcareous sandstone) ridges have been affected by construction, excavation and development.
Poisoning – European Bee-eaters frequently nest near agricultural fields and are harmed by pesticides.
Apparently also has been adversely affected in its wintering areas in Africa (Birdlife International).
Destruction of nesting colonies by beekeepers.
Disturbance of nesting colonies by photographers and curious visitors.

No specific conservation measures have been taken for this species to date.

  • מירוז, א. 2013. סיכום סקר ציפורים במזרח לכיש, אביב 2013. דו"ח רשות הטבע והגנים.
  • מירוז, א. ושוחט, א. 2014. סיכום סקר ציפורים סביב היישוב נטע במזרח לכיש – 2014. דו"ח רשות הטבע והגנים.
  • פז, ע. 1986. עופות. מתוך אלון, ע. (עורך), החי והצומח של ארץ ישראל. כרך 6. הוצאת משרד הביטחון, ישראל.
Contributed: Yoav Perlman, Asaf Mayrose, Tuvia Kahn, Rei Segali, Noam Weiss, Lior Kislev, Ezra Hadad, Yuvak Dax, Yifat Artzi, Amir Balaban

Current Occupancy Map

Current occupancy map by density
Data Missing Sporadic Limited Sites Low Density High Density
0 0 0 0 0

Distribution maps

The maps presented here provide visual information on the distribution of species in Israel from the past and present, and the changes in occupancy and breeding density during the comparison period. For further reading

Relative Abundance 2010-2020

Breeding density values in the current decade as determined from experts' opinion and observations from databases.

Relative Abundance 2010-2020 by density
Data Missing Sporadic Limited Sites Low Density High Density
8 12 12 21 19

Relative Abundance 1980-1990

Density values based primarily on the book The Birds of Israel (Shirihai 1996).

Relative Abundance 1980-1990 by density
Data Missing Sporadic Limited Sites Low Density High Density
5 14 14 17 22

Occupancy 1990-2020

The map shows differences in the species breeding distribution between the 1980's breeding map and the current weighted breeding evaluation. Negative value - species previously bred in the grid and is not presently breeding; positive value - species has not previously bred in the grid and is currently breeding.

Occupancy 1990-2020
Data Missing No Change Occupancy Increase Occupancy Decrease
6 35 1 9

Change in Relative Abundance 1990-2020

The map shows the changes in the relative abundance of a species in each of the distribution grids between the breeding map of the 1980s and the weighted current breeding evaluation. Negative values - decline in abundance; positive values - increase in abundance; zero - no change in abundance.

Change in Relative Abundance 1990-2020
80 to 100 50 20 to 30 No Change 30- to 20- 50- 100- to 80- Data Missing
0 4 2 22 12 14 11 16

Red number
IUCN category
Threat Definition according to the red book
() districts
% of protected sites

Other Species

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Merops superciliosus
Halcyon smyrnensis
Ceryle rudis