Order: Coraciiformes

Family: Meropidae

Scientific name: Nyctyornis athertoni, Jardine & Selby, 1830.

IUCN Red list status-Least Concern

Did you know?

  1. Blue Bearded Bee-eater is the largest Bee-eater found in Kerala.


The Blue Bearded Bee-eater is 30-35 cm in long and weighs 70 to 90 gms. The overall plumage is grass-green on the upper parts and creamy yellow on the under parts. The forehead, chin and face are bluish green. The blue feathers in the throat region are long, broad and give a beard-like appearance. The bill is grey with pale greyish yellow base. The irises are dark brown and the feet are pale grey. The tail is square-ended and long elongated pin feathers (similar to Green Bee-eater) are absent. Both sexes look similar.


The diet of Blue Bearded Bee-eater is mainly honeybees, wasps and hornets. They fly from an open perch and ‘hawk’ the flying honeybees in the air. The prey is hit and rubbed against a hard surface to remove the sting as well as the venom. The forage time is mainly day and it is done solitarily and in pairs.


Blue Bearded bee-eater has very high forest dependency. They inhabit in moist lowland forests, montane forests, moist deciduous forests, thick secondary evergreen forests, and foothill forests. In India it is distributed throughout the forest regions of North East states, Eastern Ghats and Western Ghats of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Apart from in India, it is found in Bangladesh and Nepal also.

Reproductive Behaviour

The breeding season is from February to August in India. The courtship involves feeding, bowing and tail displays. Their nest is a deep tunnel in a mud bank excavated by both parents over a period of one month. Normally 4-5 white eggs are laid. The incubation and neonatal care is shared by both parents.


The call is a loud hollow nasal “kyao” sound in series.

Related Species and Sub Species

  • Red Bearded Bee-eater (Nyctyornis amictus).
  • Nyctyornis athertoni brevicaudatus of Hainan in China.
  • Nyctyornis athertoni athertoni of India (Nominate species).
  • Nyctyornis athertoni bartletti of North East India

Migratory Behaviour

Uncommon Resident