A Detailed Insight into the Chestnut-Headed Bee-Eater: From Habitat to Conservation


The Chestnut-headed Bee-eater (Merops leschenaulti), also known as the bay-headed bee-eater, is a fascinating bird adorning the avian world with its vibrant colours and distinctive features. As you traverse the sub-tropical woodlands in India, your eyes might catch a flash of green and chestnut, often near water bodies. This bird is the epitome of grace and agility and is best known for its diet, predominantly of insects, especially bees, wasps, and hornets. This blog will guide every bird lover through its unique characteristics, nesting habits, threats, and conservation status. You will also learn about bird sanctuaries, where you can spot this avian wonder.

Table of Characteristics

Serial NumberCharacteristicsDescription
1Common nameChestnut-headed Bee-eater
2Scientific nameMerops leschenaulti
3ColourGreen, blue, yellow, and chestnut
4Average length18-20 cm
5Average height18-20 cm (Vertical Upside Down)
6Type of birdSub-tropical open woodland
7Found in statesAndhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, etc.
8HabitatOpen woodland near water
9IUCN StatusNot specified

Features of the Bird


The Chestnut-headed Bee-eater exhibits an average length ranging from 18 to 20 cm. This slender bird has a streamlined body, which adds aerodynamic efficiency while swooping in the air to capture insects, a significant part of its diet. Despite the small size, its vibrant colouration makes it stand out.


The height of this species measures approximately the same as its length, 18-20 cm, when measured in a vertical upside-down position. The height might not seem impressive, but what it needs to include in height is that it compensates for its vibrant colours and unique bird flying abilities.

Running Speed

Although not known for its running speed, this bird has excellent flying capabilities thanks to its streamlined body. The bird’s flying speed enables it to catch flying insects, such as bees and wasps, with remarkable precision. Their flying techniques are something that every bird lover would admire.


The Chestnut-headed Bee-eater sports a multi-colour plumage that includes green, blue, yellow, and chestnut. Each colour plays a critical role in the bird’s life, from attracting mates to camouflaging against predators.

Habitat and Food of the Bird

  1. Open Woodlands: This species thrives in sub-tropical open woodlands, commonly near water bodies.
  1. Highland Areas: It has a penchant for highland areas where it builds its nest.
  1. Bird Diet: Primarily insectivorous, its diet predominantly consists of bees, wasps, and hornets.
  1. Bird Nest: The species opts for sandy banks to nest, often in colonies.
  1. Perching Sites: This bird often chooses open perches from where it makes sorties to catch its prey.

Nesting and Nurturing

The Chestnut-headed Bee-eater is a gregarious bird that prefers to nest in colonies. It digs relatively long tunnels in sandy banks, laying 5 to 6 spherical white eggs.It is the shared responsibility of both males and females to nurture the young.This aspect makes it a unique bird in terms of bird nesting habits.


Habitat loss and pesticide use pose significant threats to the species, which in turn, have a direct impact on the birdlife. Habitat fragmentation is a pressing concern, compelling birdlife sanctuary authorities to take immediate conservation measures.

IUCN Status and Conservation

Although the IUCN status of the Chestnut-headed Bee-eater is not explicitly mentioned, the bird is susceptible to various threats that warrant immediate attention for its conservation. Numerous bird sanctuaries in India serve as a haven for this species, promoting its well-being and long-term survival.


For those who adore the avian world, the Chestnut-headed Bee-eater is a marvel worth witnessing. Whether their vibrant colouration, distinct features, or nesting habits, every aspect is awe-inspiring. By conserving their habitat and being mindful of our actions, we can ensure that future generations continue to admire this magnificent bird.

More info about Chestnut-headed Bee-eater – Link

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