- Rostrum productum, læve, subcurvatum, compressum; apice acuto, basi trigono; culmine carinato. Pedes brevissimi, gressorii. Alæ attenuatæ.
Typus Genericus M. apiaster. Linn., &c.
- Bill lengthened, smooth, slightly curved, terminating in a sharp point; the base triangular, the sides much compressed, the back carinated. Feet very short, gressorial. Wings pointed.
Generic Type Merops apiaster. Linn., &c.
- M. viridis, infra pallidior; capite, collo suprà rufo; mento, jugulo, sulphureis; lineâ temporali et torque colli nigris; tegminibus uropygioque cœruleis; caudâ subfurcatâ.
- Green, beneath paler. Head and neck above rufous; chin and throat sulphur; line under the eyes, and collar round the neck, black. Tail-covers and rump pale blue. Tail slightly forked.
- Merops urica. Horsfield in Linn. Trans.
The true Bee-eaters are confined to the old world, principally inhabiting Africa and Asia; one species only, the European Bee-eater, being known with any degree of certainty to be found in Europe; and this is occasionally seen in England. They are all gregarious, feeding on the wing, and in general migratory.
Most unwillingly I have again in this instance anticipated my friend Dr. Horsfield in describing this bird, which he found in Java, and which I engraved after one sent from Ceylon, without knowing it had also fallen under his observation.
The figure is less than the natural size, which is nearly that of our European species. Bill an inch and a half long from the gape, and black. Nostrils small, basal, round, not sulcated, partially defended by incumbent hairs; at the angle of the mouth is a row of short, stiff bristles; a black line commences from the nostrils, passes under the eye, and terminates with the ears. The upper part of the head, neck, and between the wings, rufous. The rump and upper tail-covers pale blue: the chin and throat sulphur tinged with rufous, where an irregular and narrow collar of black crosses the neck. The remaining under parts yellowish-green. Wings and quills fulvous green, the latter tipt with black, and all the inner shafts more or less rufous: the second quill longest, and the lesser quills and tail-feathers notched at their tips. Tail green, slightly forked; the tips and under side dusky-black, and three inches and a half long. Wings, when closed, four inches one line in length. Vent blueish-white.
The females in this genus may generally be distinguished by the two middle tail-feathers being but slightly or not at all elongated.