The European bee-eater 2017-06-16T13:37:28+00:00

The European bee-eater

A highly specialised hunter

The European bee-eater (Merops apiaster) is a bird highly specialised in hunting large insects, such as wasps, bees, butterflies and dragonflies. It is listed as an endangered species in Austria. For living space it seeks small units of cultivated land including extensive vineyards and cropfields, as well as fallow ground and dry grassland with scattered trees and shrubs. It arrives at its breeding grounds in the Pannonian plains of eastern Austria, e.g. Kremstal, Wachau, Lake Neusiedl, as of mid-May and departs for its winter migratory flight to West and South Africa as early as mid-August.
When there are not enough natural earth cliffs in the terrain, such as on eroded riverbanks, it burrows and implants cavity nests in flat, scoopable ground, anything ranging from artificial surface fissures such as in sand, clay or gravel pits to sunken roads and vineyard terraces. These breeding cells are about 120 cm long and lead into a spacious breeding chamber.