Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus)

The Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus) is often referred to as the ‘Rainbow Bird’, a medium size bird that measures up to 27 cm including the tail. The upper part show green forehead, golden crown, green back; turquoise/blue, green and chestnut wings. With plumage that combines pastel tints with bright hues, the Rainbow Bee-eater has a relatively long, slim beak, that has a slight down curve. The tail is black, extending in a pair of long, fine tail streamers with elongated clubbed shaped end. The tail is much shorter and thicker in the female bird and absent in the immature bird.

The Rainbow Bee-eater are a common species found in open airspace such as over woodland and open forest, semi-arid scrub, grassland, farmland. This provides the space for their aerial acrobatics in pursuit of flying insects such as bees and dragonflies. They are seen in most of southern Australia during the summer months (except for Tasmania), and migrate north during the winter. They can be seen around Alice Springs and Central Australia.

They are ground nesting birds and require sandy banks or loamy soil soft enough for excavating their nest burrows, but the soil needs to be firm enough to sustain the tunnel to the nest. It is thought that they mate for life.

The diet of the Rainbow bee-eaters consists mostly of flying insects, including bees.

Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus)
Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus) © Dorothy L

Images © CK Leel / © Ausemade PL / © Dorothy L

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Coraciiformes
  • Family: Meropidae
  • Genus: Merops
  • Species: M. ornatus
  • Binomial name: Merops ornatus