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European Bee-Eater (Merops apiaster) photographed in Etosha National Park, Namibia.

European Bee-Eater

(Merops apiaster)

If the European Bee Eater breeds in Europe, how did I photograph this beautiful little fellow in southern Africa? That’s because most of the population migrates south for the winter. Winter in Europe is of course summer in the Southern Hemisphere, so these birds live in perpetual summer.

The European Bee-Eater builds its nest by digging a tunnel into a vertical wall of earth like a river bank. The tunnels are usually three feet long and end in a nesting chamber which will hold four to seven eggs. The parents are often assisted by “helpers” who help feed the babies. These helpers are usually sons of the breeding pair or brothers of the breeding male! This is a highly unusual system!

Photographed in Etosha National Park, Namibia.

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