Appearance The Carmine Bee-eater is a medium-sized bird, 14" (36cm), with a turquise-blue head and throat, separated by a wedge-shaped black mask through its eye. It has a black bill. Its body and long tail is a pinkish-red (carmine), with its rump a bright pale blue. Wing tips are green.
Habits A gregarious bird, the Carmine Bee-eater perches in small flocks. Larger roosts are often found in mangroves or leafy trees. Nesting occurs in sandy riverbanks. Colonies of tunnels are dug out and numbers have been counted into thousands.
Diet The Carmine Bee-eater swoops from branches, to catch flying insects. Dragonflies, Butterflies, Bees, Locusts, Cicadias, Shieldbugs, Flying Ants & Termites number amongst its regular prey. They are attracted to dust from vehicles or animals, stirring up grass - or even fires, where insects will be found to be disturbed.
Resident Occasionally, the Carmine Bee-eater breeds at Lake Turkana and the Great Rift Lakes of Kenya, during March - May. It is a migrant from the Northern tropics.
Extra Facts A similar species, the Southern Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nubicoides) is rarely seen in the coastal regions of Kenya between September - March. The Southern species has a pink throat, instead of the turquise-blue of the Northern species.