Scientific Journal of the BirdLife Hungary

A Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület tudományos folyóirata

Ornis Hungarica. vol.21(2). (2013) p.1-22.

European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster Linnaeus, 1758) in Hungary: a review
József Gyurácz, Károly Nagy, Tibor István Fuisz, Zsolt Karcza & T ibor Szép

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The European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster Linnaeus, 1758) is known as ‛beekeeper bird’
and an effective ecosystem engineer species. The fact that in 2013 it became ‛The Bird of the Year’ in Hungary offers the possibility to summarise the information about the distribution, population size, breeding and feeding ecology, dispersion, migration, intra- and interspecific relationships as well as the nature conservation status of the bee-eater population breeding in Hungary. Though this review focuses on the Hungarian population trends, but also summarises the major research results from other countries. In the period of 1992–2013, the number of breeding pairs were surveyed in 5897 2.5×2.5 km UTM squares in the frame of the Monitoring of Rare and Colonial Breeding Birds programme. In the surveyed area during the period of 1992–2013, the most accurate estimate suggests a 10600–19600 breeding pair population. The larger nesting colonies were observed in the following regions: Zala Hills, Outer Somogy, Gerecse, Velencei Hills, Mezőföld, Gödöllő Hills, Tápió, Bükkalja, Taktaköz, Körös region. The annual population indices showed marked fluctuation with stable long term population trend in Hungary. The national monitoring and protection project of the European Bee-eater revealed the most important factors endangering the nesting populations, these are weed invasion and the collapse of vertical banks, mining carried out in the nesting period and direct human-caused disturbance (e.g. shooting, tourism).