Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 158, Issue 4, pp 1119–1122 | Cite as

Dynamics in numbers of group-roosting individuals in relation to pair-sleeping occurrence and onset of egg-laying in European Bee-eaters Merops apiaster

  • Liviu G. Pârâu
  • Sjouke A. Kingma
  • Simon E. Weigl
  • Hannah L. Dugdale
  • Catherine M. Lessells
  • Julia Schroeder
Short Communication


Sleeping in the nest at the beginning of the breeding season is common for birds nesting in cavities. Here, we report evidence that European Bee-eaters Merops apiaster sleep in pairs in the nesting burrow. In 3.2% of the nest checks, we found two individuals sleeping together. This behaviour ceased once hatching started. A decrease in the number of birds at a communal roost coincided with the incidences of pair-sleeping and initiation of egg-laying. Thus, checking the burrows of European Bee-eaters at the beginning of the breeding season increases the chance of observing pair-sleeping.


Roost Sleeping behaviour Burrow Pair European Bee-eater Merops apiaster 


Zeitliche Dynamik von Gruppen - und Paarschlafverhalten während des Brutbeginns bei Bienenfressern Merops apiaster Vögel vieler Arten verbringen die Nacht auf oder in ihrem Nest, auch zu Beginn der Brutsaison. In diesem Artikel beschreiben wir wie bei Bienenfressern Merops apiaster Paare gemeinsam die Nacht in ihren Bruthöhlen verbringen. Sogar vor der Eiablage fanden wir in 3.2% aller überprüften Nester zwei Individuen gemeinsam schlafend. Sobald die Eier bebrütet wurden, wurde dieses Verhalten nicht mehr beobachtet. Gleichzeitig mit dem Beginn der Eiablage beobachteten wir auch eine Abnahme der Anzahl Bienenfresser, die im gemeinsamen Schlafbaum die Nacht verbrachten. Um die Chancen einer Beobachtung des gemeinsamen Schlafverhaltens von Bienenfressern in ihren Bruthöhlen zu erhöhen, sollte man die Höhlen vor der Eiablage überprüfen.



We would like to thank Maja Keleraba, Alen Hosic, Harv Stanic Staalman, Kat Bebbington and Sarah Vanes for their help on Susak Island. The study was supported by a grant from the Nicolaas Mulerius Foundation to HLD. SAK was funded by a VENI fellowship (863.13.017) awarded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and a grant from the Ecology fund (UPS/297/ECO/1414 J) awarded by Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). JS was funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. Fieldwork in Croatia was approved by the Croatian Institute for Ornithology and the Croatian Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection. We thank two anonymous referees for comments on the original manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Evolutionary BiologyMax Planck Institute for OrnithologySeewiesenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular BiotechnologyHeidelberg UniversityHeidelbergGermany
  3. 3.Behavioural and Physiological Ecology, Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life SciencesUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of BiologyUniversity of KonstanzKonstanzGermany
  5. 5.School of BiologyUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK
  6. 6.Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW)WageningenThe Netherlands
  7. 7.Department of Life SciencesImperial College LondonAscotUK

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