The bee-eater is a slender bird with a body resembling that of a swallow. Its beak is long, thin, and turns down slightly before ending in a sharp point. This feature allows the bird to snatch insects out of the air.
There are 26 species of bee-eaters, all with their own distinctive markings and colourings. However, the species you are most likely to see in Menorca is the European bee-eater. With its blue belly, golden-yellow throat, russet-red wings and back, and green tail feathers, this specimen is an explosion of colour – and impossible to miss!
As you can guess by its name, this bird feeds primarily on bees and wasps. It is an aerial hunter, meaning it catches prey during flight. Once the bird has captured a bee, it removes the stinger by rubbing and hitting the insect on a rock or other hard surface. This process also helps to extract the venom, making the insect safe to eat.
The European breeds in southern Europe and migrates to west or southern Africa in the cooler months. If you’re visiting Menorca in spring, you may see them returning for mating season.
Bee-eaters are highly social birds. Clans of these colourful birds form colonies together, typically taking the form of burrows in the side of river banks. If you’re walking along one of Menorca’s rivers during your holiday and notice a network of holes dug into the bank, you may be looking at a colony.
As far as birds go, the bee-eater is extremely hygienic. Because they nest underground in holes, the birds are liable to accumulate mites and flies. But this species spends a considerable amount of time engaging in dust-bathing, sun-bathing and preening to ensure its feathers and skin are in good health.
Glimpsing the Bee-Eater
If you’d like to increase your chances of catching sight of this unique bird, you might get lucky in Cala Tirant, a beach and nature park in the north of Menorca near Fornells. A beautiful fishing village with a long and interesting history, Fornells is the perfect location for an authentic Menorcan getaway. If you’re interested in staying in the area, browse our list properties near Fornells and get in touch with a member of our team.