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Merops superciliosus

warning Critically Endangered
CR (D1)

Contributed: Asaf Mayrose, Yoav Perlman, Nadav Israeli, Noam Weiss, Yuvak Dax, Rei Segali, Amir Balaban

The Blue-cheeked Bee-eater is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) because of the extremely small size of its breeding population, which is estimated at less than 50 mature individuals. In the previous edition of the Red Book (2002), it was classified as Vulnerable (VU). The change in the species threat category reflects a decline of the population, which decreased from 50 to 100 pairs in the early 1990s to between 18 and 30 today. Nevertheless, in recent years the species was seen nesting in the Jordan Valley, in the Southern Arava and in the Western Negev, in sites not previously known. From the numbers of birds seen during the post-fledging period it is apparent that its numbers on the Jordanian side of the Jordan and Arava valleys are higher than on the Israeli side.
CR Current Regional Assessment | VU Previous Regional Assessment | LC World Assessment

Habitats Salt Marsh, Rural Areas, Humid Lowlands, Loess Ravines
Presence In Israel Summer Breeder, Migrant
Nesting In Israel Breeder
Migration Types Long Range
Zoography Zones Irano-Turanian, Sudano-Zambezian
Landscape Formations Plains & Valleys, Wide Wadis, Rural Area
Vegetation Formations Steppe, Herbaceous
Vegetation Densities Low
Nest Locations Mountainside
Diet Types Invertebrate
Foraging Grounds Aerial
Body Sizes Small (up to 500g)
Threat Factors Pesticide Poisoning, Habitat Fragmentation

The Blue-cheeked Bee-eater is a rare summer breeder along the Jordan Valley and the Arava, between the Bet She’an Valley in the north to Grofit in the south. In the Ne’ot HaKikar and Sodom Salt Marsh area there are apparently a few breeding pairs (Yoav Perlman 2016 pers. comm.). About 5 pairs were seen along the Jordan River between Mehola and Jericho (Eli Haviv & Asaf Mayrose 2017, pers. comm.), 10-12 pairs were seen nesting in the Grofit area (Noam Weiss 2017, pers. comm.) and a single pair bred in Kerem-Shalom area (Eyal Shochat, pers. comm.). Thus, a rough estimate puts the breeding population in Israel at between about 18 and 30 pairs. Until the 1950s, the species was a relatively common breeder, in colonies of tens of pairs – in the Jordan, Bet She’an and Hula valleys, in the Golan Heights and the Zevulun Valley (Inbar 1975, Paz 1986, Shirihai 1996). During the 1960s, it disappeared from most of these regions, except for a few pairs in the Jordan and Bet She’an valleys. During the 1970s and 1980s there was a slight recovery, and 50-100 pairs were recorded breeding in the Jordan Valley, between Jericho and Bet She’an, some 10 pairs in the southern Golan and a single pair in Ne’ot HaKikar (Shirihai 1996).

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

The Blue-cheeked Bee-eater was once a common summer breeder in the Northern Valleys and the Jordan Valley. Its population declined dramatically during the 1960s due to agricultural pesticide poisoning and the species became extremely rare. In recent years, it has been observed nesting along the Jordan Valley, the Arava and the Western Negev, including in sites from which it was not previously known, increasing the probability that the species population might grow and expand.

Breeding populations should be monitored. The main breeding area of the Blue-cheeked Bee-eater is along the Jordan River headwaters, an area that is not monitored regularly because of security issues.

  • פז, ע. 1986. עופות. מתוך אלון, ע. (עורך), החי והצומח של ארץ ישראל. כרך 6. הוצאת משרד הביטחון, ישראל.
Contributed: Asaf Mayrose, Yoav Perlman, Nadav Israeli, Noam Weiss, Yuvak Dax, Rei Segali, 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

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% of protected sites

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