Physical characteristics

Bee-eaters are a family of small to medium-sized active birds, primarily of open habitats. They are easy to see in many parts of the paleotropics because of their striking color patterns and acrobatic flights to capture prey. Nearly all bee-eaters have beautiful plumages, typically with bright gourgets of red or yellow that contrast with blues and ochres of the breast and belly. Eye stripes bordered with contrasting colors are nearly ubiquitous. Two of the largest species, the carmine (Merops nubicoides) and rosy bee-eaters (Merops malimbicus), are a brilliant magenta or pink over most of the body.

All bee-eaters share the characteristics of a strong, slightly decurved bill, and a foot structure that includes the partial fusion of the three forward-facing toes. In most species the sexes are very similar or identical in appearance. Juveniles may have distinguishing plumage for a short time.

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