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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

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 World Assessment

Habitats Mediterranean Batha, Semi-desert Batha, Parks & Woodlands, Shrubland, Loess Ravines
Presence In Israel Summer Breeder, Migrant
Nesting In Israel Breeder
Migration Types Long Range
Zoography Zones Mediterranean, Irano-Turanian
Landscape Formations Plains & Valleys, Wide Wadis, Rural Area
Vegetation Formations Mediterranean Garrigue, Steppe
Vegetation Densities Low
Nest Locations Mountainside
Diet Types Invertebrate
Foraging Grounds Aerial
Body Sizes Small (up to 500g)
Threat Factors Plantations, Pesticide Poisoning, Habitat Fragmentation, Human Activity

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

Distribution maps

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

Relative Abundance 2010-2020

Breeding density values as calculated from observation records and expert opinions.

Relative Abundance 1980-1990

Breeding density values are based mainly on the book Birds of Israel (Shirihai 1996).

Occupancy difference 1990-2020

A map that expresses differences in the breeding distribution between the evaluation periods (1980-1990 versus 2010-2020). Negative value - species previously present but is currently absent, positive value - species has not been recorded previously and is currently present, zero - no change in occupancy.

Relative abundance difference 1990-2020

A map that reflects the changes in the relative abundance of the species between the evaluation periods (1980-1990 versus 2010-2020). Negative values - decline in abundance, positive values - increase in abundance, zero - no change in abundance.

Red number

IUCN category

() districts
% of protected sites

Other Species

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Merops superciliosus
Halcyon smyrnensis
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