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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
Update Time: Jan. 1, 2011, 7:39 a.m.

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 Global Assessment

Habitats Salt Marsh, Rural Areas, Humid Lowlands, Loess Ravines
Presence In Israel Migrant, Summer
Breeding In Israel Breeder
Migration Types Long Range
Zoographical Zones Irano-Turanian, Sudani
Landscape Types Plains & Valleys, Wide Wadis, Rural Area
Vegetation Types 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 loss and 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

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

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