18 February 2023

Arabian Green Bee-eater – Al Hair

Whilst birding the Al Hair area of Riyadh I came across some Arabian Green Bee-eaters. It has a status as a common breeding resident in central and western areas of the Kingdom. It is a common species in Al Hair and I see them every time I visit. This time I managed to take a few nice photos of them and at one point two were perched close together. This species is widely spread from the Riyadh area and central Saudi Arabia across to the Red Sea coast in the west of the Kingdom. There are two subspecies Merops cyanophrys cyanophryssouthern Israel, western Jordan and western & southern Arabia and Merops cyanophrys muscatensis central Saudi Arabia, eastern Yemen, United Arab Emirates and Oman. The birds from Riyadh are from central Saudi Arabia, which is the furthest east the species occurs in Saudi Arabia. Arabian Green Bee-eater is not difficult to see in the Riyadh area where birds, look to me, very similar to the birds seen in southwest Saudi Arabia which are M. c. cyanophrys although they are Merops cyanophrys muscatensis. The differences between the two subspecies are very subtle with the following the main points. 

Merops cyanophrys cyanophrys

·      Green colours less bronzy and more blue-tinged

·      Forehead, eyebrow and throat blue

·      Gorget deep and less well defined

·      Tail streamers short and pointed

Merops cyanophrys muscatensis

·      Paler

·      More yellowish and less blueish above and below

·      Breast band narrower