Meropidae


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Related to Meropidae: bee-eaters

Meropidae

[mə′räp·ə‚dē]
(vertebrate zoology)
The bee-eaters, a family of brightly colored Old World birds in the order Coraciiformes.

Meropidae

 

a family of birds of the order Coraciiformes. The body measures 15–35 cm in length. The bill is compressed and slightly curved. The wings are long and pointed, and the flight is rapid. The legs are short and the birds walk clumsily. The plumage is dense, shiny, and alike in both sexes. Dark blue, green, and yellow tones predominate.

The family comprises seven genera, which include 21 species. The Meropidae are distributed in the temperate and tropical parts of Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Some species are migratory. There are two species in the USSR: the common bee-eater (Merops apiaster), which is found in the south, from Moldavia in the west to as far east as the Altai and as far north as Kazan and Ufa, and the blue-cheeked bee-eater (Meropidae superciliosus), which lives in the arid parts of the Caspian Region and Middle Asia. Both species are migratory.

The Meropidae inhabit open spaces, shunning forests. They nest in colonies in burrows dug in cliffs or flat areas. The clutch contains two to nine white eggs, which are incubated by both the male and female. The young are bare upon hatching. The diet consists of insects, including wasps and bees, which, like the swallows, the Meropidae catch on the wing, taking off from a branch or edge of a cliff. The Meropidae are harmful to apiculture, since they feed on bees.