email a friend
printable version
Blue-moustached Bee-eater Merops mentalis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This species has been uplisted to Near Threatened on the basis that it is suspected to be undergoing a moderately rapid population decline owing to on-going habitat loss.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Taxonomic note
Merops muelleri (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into M. muelleri and M. mentalis by the BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group on the basis of significant morphological differences, and genetic analysis in Marks et al.

Distribution and population
Merops mentalis is found in West Africa, occurring in Sierra Leone, south-eastern Guinea, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, southern Ghana, southern Nigeria and western Cameroon (Borrow and Demey 2001, 2004). Despite being widespread, the species generally exists at low densities, even in protected areas (J. Lindsell in litt. 2012).

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is reported to be not uncommon and rare to locally common (del Hoyo et al. 2001).

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in moderately rapid decline, owing primarily to habitat loss, which is driven mainly by logging for timber and agricultural encroachment (del Hoyo et al. 2001, F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012, J. Lindsell in litt. 2012). The decline is not thought to be more severe than this because the species demonstrates some tolerance of habitat fragmentation and degradation.

The species shows some dependence on mature forest, being observed in clearings and along the edges of primary forest and old secondary forest (Borrow and Demey 2001, del Hoyo et al. 2001), although it may also feed over agricultural land where a few large trees (alive or dead) remain standing (del Hoyo et al. 2001, F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012). It appears to prefer evergreen and semi-evergreen forest with a broken canopy and small clearings, also frequenting the edges of forest by roads and swamps (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012, J. Lindsell in litt. 2012), but it is clearly reliant on areas of intact forest, and is generally not found amongst tree crops and farmbush (J. Lindsell in litt. 2012). It is usually seen in pairs or small family groups (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012).

This species occurs in a region known for rapid and on-going deforestation. Large remnant tracts of forest in Liberia are under intense and increasing pressure from commercial logging and a consequent increase in settlement and small-holder agriculture (Fauna and Flora International 2000). Elsewhere in the Upper Guinea region, forest survives in fragments that are under intense pressure for logging and conversion to agriculture (Fauna and Flora International 2000). Forest in some reserves is being destroyed for teak plantations and cultivation, as well as through illegal logging (e.g. Opro River, Afram Headwaters, Tano Ofin and Atewa Range, Ghana) (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012). The species's tolerance of some forest degradation and fragmentation implies that it is not undergoing a severe decline.

Conservation Actions Underway
This species occurs in a number of protected areas across its range, although the level of protection afforded to these areas varies considerably.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out an analysis of existing records and conduct surveys to study the species's range and population size. Monitor habitat trends across its range. Conduct research into the species's ecology, habitat requirements and tolerance of habitat fragmentation and degradation. Increase the total area of suitable habitat in the species's range that is protected. Improve the effectiveness of protected area management where necessary.

Borrow, N.; Demey, R. 2001. Birds of western Africa. Christopher Helm, London.

Borrow, N.; Demey, R. 2004. Field guide to the birds of Western Africa. Christopher Helm, London.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 2001. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 6: Mousebirds to Hornbills. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Fauna and Flora International. 2000. Restarting Nature Conservation in Liberia. Fauna and Flora News 12: 1-2.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Symes, A., Taylor, J.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Lindsell, J.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Merops mentalis. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Meropidae (Bee-eaters)
Species name author Cabanis, 1889
Population size Unknown mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 323,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species