African Bee-eaters are numerous and make up the majority of the worldwide Bee-eater species although others occur in Asia, Southern Europe, Australia and New Guinea. African Bee-eaters like all other Bee-eaters are characterised by their richly coloured plumage, slender bodies and usually elongated central tail feathers. All have long down turned or de-curved bills and pointed wings, this gives them a swallow-like appearance when seen from a distance. Including the African Bee-eaters, there are 26 different species of bee-eaters worldwide.
As the name suggests, bee-eaters predominantly eat flying insects, especially bees and wasps, which are caught in the air. As you can imagine the African Bee-eaters for example have no shortage of this food source. Before eating its 'bee' meal, a bee-eater removes the 'stinger' by repeatedly hitting and rubbing the insect on a hard surface. During this process, pressure is applied to the insect/bee thereby extracting most of the venom.
African Bee-eaters are gregarious and they form colonies by nesting in burrows tunnelled into the side of sandy banks, such as those that have collapsed on the edges of rivers. Their eggs are white and they generally produce 2–9 eggs per clutch (depending on species). As they live in colonies, large numbers of these holes are often seen together showing the tell-tell white streaks at the hole entrance from their accumulated droppings accentuating the entrances to the nests. Most of the species in the family are monogamous, and both parents care for the young, sometimes with the assistance of other birds in the colony.
A number of the African bee-eaters species are migratory. Species that breed in subtropical or temperate areas of Europe like the European Bee-eater that migrate to Africa in the summer months or the intra-African migrants like the Southern Carmine bee-eater for example which migrate within the Africa continent itself.
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