Forehead greenish white; nape, and upper part of the back, deep chestnut: throat yellow, bounded by a black line.
M. Apiaster, Temm. Man. d'Orn. torn. 1. p. 420. Id. torn. III. p. 293. Sow. Brit. Misc. pi. 69. Common Bee-eater, Mont. Orn. Diet. Selb. Illust. vol. 1. p. 114. pl. 41. Bew. Brit. Birds, vol. 1. p. 146.
Entire length eleven inches. Temm.
Forehead white, passing into bluish green; crown of the head, nape, and upper part of the back, deep chestnut; middle and lower regions of the back of a paler chestnut, passing into reddish yellow: from the corner of the bill a black streak passing over the eyes and across the ear-coverts, where it meets another line of black encircling the lower portion of the neck; throat golden yellow; the rest of the under parts bluish green: lesser wing-coverts grass-green; middle portion of the wing brownish red: quills dusky, passing into bluish green on their outer webs: tail greenish blue; the two middle feathers somewhat darker, pointed, and longer than the others by more than an inch: bill black: irides red: feet brown. In the female, the colours are for the most part similar, only paler: the two middle tail-feathers are relatively shorter. (Egg). Smooth, and white; nearly round: long. diam. one inch and half a line; trans, diam. eleven lines.
Very rarely seen in this country. A flight of about twenty was observed near Mattishall in Norfolk, and one killed, in June 1794; since which period, other specimens have been met with on different occasions in Cornwall, Devonshire, and Ireland. Common in some parts of the Continent. Feeds principally on Hymenopterous insects. Nest placed in deep holes excavated in the banks of rivers for that purpose. Eggs five to seven in number.