Rainbow Bee-eater

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Merops ornatus


Size 23-28cm including tail shafts.

Beautiful green and blue body with golden crown. Black line through the eye. Black bib beneath the yellow throat. Red eyes, black legs and slender curved black bill. Immature is paler and minus the black bib on the throat. The call, a sweet “prrp prrp” is given in flight.

Feeding Habits

Bees, dragonflies, wasps and other insects taken on the wing. This food provides most of the moisture required so they seldom need to drink. Often seen singly and sometimes in large flocks.


Nests are constructed by tunnelling into banks or bare sandy ground. The end is enlarged to form the breeding chamber which is lined with grasses. Tunnels can be up to a metre long. Both parents construct the nest, incubate the eggs and feed the young.

Places to Look

Beaches, dunes, open woodlands and riverbanks.


NQ Dry Tropics gratefully acknowledges the contribution of Birdlife Townsville (formerly the Townsville Region Bird Observers Club) to the information on this page.

© Birdlife Townsville
© Birdlife Townsville

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