Rainbow Bee-eater

Merops ornatus




Bee-eaters (Meropidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:


Number of Eggs:

3 - 7

Incubation Days:

22 - 31

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

Nest is laid in a small chamber at the end of a narrow tunnel in the ground.

Nest Material:

Feathers, grass, or wasp wings.





Rainbow Bee-eater: Small, green bee-eater with turquoise-blue back, rump, and vent. Narrow turquoise-blue line below black mask. Orange crown, yellow-orange throat with black patch separating throat from breast. Red eye, long, slightly decurved sharp black bill. Long, pointed wings with orange-brown flight feathers and black trailing edge. Fairly long, black, rectangular tail with long, needle-like central tail feathers. Feeds on flying insects, especially wasps and bees.

Breeding and Nesting

Rainbow Bee-eater: Three to seven white eggs are laid in a small chamber at the end of a narrow tunnel in the ground. The tunnel is six to ten feet in length and can be built in embankments or on level ground. The egg chamber can be lined with feathers, grass, or wasp wings, and the eggs are incubated by both sexes for 22 to 31 days.

Foraging and Feeding

Rainbow Bee-eater: Feeds on flying insects, especially bees and wasps. Forages by waiting on a perch in an open area and then flying out into the air to snatch prey with its bill. It can see prey from a distance of 90 feet and often catches food items with acrobatic maneuvers.


Rainbow Bee-eater: Standard call is a rolling "prrreeep." Alarm call is a shrill, repeated "dip-diip."

Similar Species

Unlikely to be confused with any other species in this range.

The upper front part of a bird.
The crown is the top part of the birds head.
Flight feathersX
Located on the wing, and collectively called remiges (singular, remex). The long stiff feathers are subdivided into two major groups based on the location and are called primaries and secondaries.
The area between the uppertail coverts and the back of the bird.
Birds do not have two separate cavities for excrement and reproduction like humans do. In birds, there is one single entrance/exit that suits both functions called the vent, cloaca or anus.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X