Thai National Parks

Birds of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Chestnut-headed bee-eater

Thai: นกจาบคาหัวสีส้ม, nok jap khaa hua see som

Binomial name: Merops leschenaulti, Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot, 1817

The chestnut-headed bee-eater (Merops leschenaulti) a.k.a. bay-headed bee-eater is a near passerine bird in the bee-eater family Meropidae. It is a resident breeder in the Indian subcontinent and adjoining regions, ranging from India east to Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

This species, like other bee-eaters, is a richly coloured, slender bird. It is predominantly green, with blue on the rump and lower belly. Its face and throat are yellow with a black eye stripe, and the crown and nape are rich chestnut. The thin curved bill is black. Sexes are alike, but young birds are duller.

This species is 18–20 cm long; it lacks the two elongated central tail feathers possessed by most of its relatives.

Description

Forehead, crown, nape, lower face and ear-coverts bright chestnut ; lores black, continued as a band under the eye and ear-coverts ; wing-coverts, lower back and tertiaries green, the latter tipped with bluish; rump and upper tail-coverts pale shining blue; primaries and secondaries green, rufous on the inner webs, and all tipped dusky ; central tail-feathers bluish on the outer, and green on the inner webs ; the others green, margined on the inner web with brown and all tipped dusky ; sides of face, chin and throat yellow ; below this a broad band of chestnut extending to the sides of the neck and meeting the chestnut of the upper plumage ; below this again a short distinct band of black and then an ill-defined band of yellow ; remainder of lower plumage green, tipped with blue, especially on the vent and under tail-coverts.

The Javan sub-species, M. l. quinticolor, differs in having the whole space from the bill down to the black pectoral band pure yellow without any chestnut, and in having the tail blue.

Race andamanensis found in the Andamans is slightly larger than the Indian race.

Iris crimson ; bill black ; legs dusky black ; claws dark horn-colour.

Habits

This is a bird which breeds in sub-tropical open woodland, often near water. It is most common in highland areas. As the name suggests, bee-eaters predominantly eat insects, especially bees, wasps and hornets, which are caught in the air by sorties from an open perch.

These bee-eaters are gregarious, nesting colonially in sandy banks. They make a relatively long tunnel in which the 5 to 6 spherical white eggs are laid. Both the male and the female take care of the eggs. These birds also feed and roost communally. The call is similar to that of the European bee-eater.

Its scientific name commemorates the French botanist Jean Baptiste Leschenault de la Tour.

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Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Coraciiformes
Family
Meropidae
Genus
Merops
Species
Merops leschenaulti

Common names

  • Thai: นกจาบคาหัวสีส้ม, nok jap khaa hua see som

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Distribution map of Chestnut-headed bee-eater, Merops leschenaulti in Thailand
  • Amphawa District, Samut Songkhram
  • Ao Manao-Khao Tanyong National Park
  • Ao Phang-Nga National Park
  • Ban Bueng District, Chonburi
  • Ban Lat District, Phetchaburi
  • Ban Phai District, Khon Kaen
  • Bang Pa In District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Bang Phra Non-hunting Area
  • Bang Pu Recreation Centre
  • Bang Saphan Noi District, Prachuap Khiri Khan
  • Bangkok Province
  • Bueng Boraped Non-hunting Area
  • Chaloem Phra Kiat District, Saraburi
  • Chaloem Phrakiat Thai Prachan National Park
  • Chaloem Rattanakosin National Park
  • Chiang Dao District, Chiang Mai
  • Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Chiang Saen District, Chiang Rai
  • Doi Inthanon National Park
  • Doi Lang
  • Doi Lo District, Chiang Mai
  • Doi Pha Hom Pok National Park
  • Doi Suthep-Pui National Park
  • Erawan National Park
  • Fang District, Chiang Mai
  • Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Hang Chat District, Lampang
  • Hat Chao Mai National Park
  • Hat Noppharat Thara - Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park
  • Huai Chorakhe Mak Reservoir Non-hunting Area
  • Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Huai Nam Dang National Park
  • Kaeng Khoi District, Saraburi
  • Kaeng Krachan National Park
  • Kaeng Krung National Park
  • Kamphaeng Saen District, Nakhon Pathom
  • Kapong District, Phang Nga
  • Khao Dinsor (Chumphon Raptor Center)
  • Khao Laem National Park
  • Khao Lak - Lam Ru National Park
  • Khao Luang National Park
  • Khao Phra - Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
  • Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Sok National Park
  • Khao Yai National Park
  • Khao Yoi District, Phetchaburi
  • Khlong Lan National Park
  • Khlong Nakha Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khlong Phanom National Park
  • Khok Sung District, Sa Kaeo
  • Khura Buri District, Phang Nga
  • Klaeng District, Rayong
  • Ko Phayam
  • Ko Phra Thong
  • Kui Buri National Park
  • Laem Pak Bia
  • Laem Son National Park
  • Lan Sak District, Uthai Thani
  • Mae Ai District, Chiang Mai
  • Mae Moei National Park
  • Mae Ping National Park
  • Mae Rim District, Chiang Mai
  • Mae Taeng District, Chiang Mai
  • Mae Wong National Park
  • Mancha Khiri District, Khon Kaen
  • Mu Ko Lanta National Park
  • Mu Ko Phetra National Park
  • Mu Ko Similan National Park
  • Muak Lek District, Saraburi
  • Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai
  • Mueang Chonburi District, Chonburi
  • Mueang Chumphon District, Chumphon
  • Mueang Kanchanaburi District, Kanchanaburi
  • Mueang Khon Kaen District, Khon Kaen
  • Mueang Krabi District, Krabi
  • Mueang Lampang District, Lampang
  • Mueang Nakhon Nayok District, Nakhon Nayok
  • Mueang Nakhon Pathom District, Nakhon Pathom
  • Mueang Phang Nga District, Phang Nga
  • Mueang Phetchaburi District, Phetchaburi
  • Mueang Phuket District, Phuket
  • Mueang Ratchaburi District, Ratchaburi
  • Mueang Sisaket District, Sisaket
  • Mueang Sukhothai District, Sukhothai
  • Mueang Tak District, Tak
  • Nam Nao National Park
  • Namtok Sam Lan National Park
  • Non Din Daeng District, Buriram
  • Nong Bong Khai Non-hunting Area
  • Nong Ya Plong District, Phetchaburi
  • Nong Yai Area Development Project Under Royal Init
  • Ob Khan National Park
  • Pa Sang District, Lamphun
  • Pachee River Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Pak Phli District, Nakhon Nayok
  • Pak Thale
  • Pang Sida National Park
  • Pang Sila Thong District, Kamphaeng Phet
  • Pha Daeng National Park
  • Pha Taem National Park
  • Phatthana Nikhom District, Lopburi
  • Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Phu Khiao Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Pran Buri District, Prachuap Khiri Khan
  • Ramkhamhaeng National Park
  • Sai Yok District, Kanchanaburi
  • Sai Yok National Park
  • Sakaerat Environmental Research Station
  • Salak Pra Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Salawin National Park
  • Sathing Phra District, Songkhla
  • Si Satchanalai District, Sukhothai
  • Si Sawat District, Kanchanaburi
  • Sirinat National Park
  • Sri Nakarin Dam National Park
  • Sri Phang-nga National Park
  • Suk Samran District, Ranong
  • Taksin Maharat National Park
  • Takua Pa District, Phang Nga
  • Taphan Hin District, Phichit
  • Tarutao National Marine Park
  • Tat Mok National Park
  • Tha Yang District, Phetchaburi
  • Thai Mueang District, Phang Nga
  • Thalang District, Phuket
  • Tham Pratun Non-hunting Area
  • Thap Lan National Park
  • Thong Pha Phum District, Kanchanaburi
  • Thung Salaeng Luang National Park
  • Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Ton Pariwat Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Wat Phai Lom & Wat Ampu Wararam Non-hunting Area
  • Wat Tham Erawan Non-hunting Area
  • Yan Ta Khao District, Trang

Range map of Merops leschenaulti in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are based on limited data we have collected. The data is not necessarily accurate or complete.

Special thanks to Ton Smits, Parinya Pawangkhanant, Ian Dugdale and many others for their contribution for range data.

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