1026. Merops viridis.
The Common Indian Bee-eater.
Merops viridis, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 182 (1766) ; Blyth, Cat. p. 53; Horsf. & M. Cat. p. 84 ; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 205 ; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xxxvii, p. 19; Hume, S. F. i, p. 167; iii, p. 49; xi, p. 42 ; id. Cat. no. 117 ; Adam, S. F. i, p. 371 ; Blyth Wold. Birds Burm. p. 73; Morgan, Ibis, 1875, p. 314; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, pp. 67, 498; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 309; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 237; Davison, S. F. x, p. 350; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 65; id. in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 60; Barnes, Birds Bomb. p. 93; Dresser, Mon. Mer. p. 31, pl. ix; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xvii, p. 78. Merops ferrugeiceps and M. torquatus, Hodgs. Gray's Zool. Misc. p. 82 (1844), descr. nulla. Merops indicus, Jerdon, Madr. Jour. L. S. xi, p. 227.
Patringa, Harrial, H.; Banspati in Bengal; Tailingi, Veda Raghu, Mahr.; Chinna passeriki, Tel.; Kurumenne Kurulla, Cing.; Kattalan Kuruvi, Tamil, Ceylon; Monagyi, Arrakan; Hnet-pasin-to, Burm.
Several of these terms are also used for other species of Merops.
Coloration. Upper parts, including wing-coverts and tertiaries, bright green, sometimes more or less tinged with ferruginous or golden on the crown, nape, and upper back, tertiaries and rump a little bluer; lores and a band under the eye to the ear-coverts black, primary and secondary quills pale rufous, greenish on the outer webs, tipped blackish ; tail duller green above, dark brown below, tips of the elongate middle feathers blackish ; lower parts green ; a black gorget; chin and cheeks, and sometimes the throat, bluish or even verditer-blue; lower abdomen and lower coverts also sometimes bluish.
Bill black ; irides blood-red ; feet dark plumbeous (Jerdon).
Length about 9 ; tail 4.5-5, outer rectrices 2.9 ; wing 3.6 ; tarsus .4 ; bill from gape 1.4.
Specimens with a ferruginous head are more common to the eastward, especially in Burma; birds from the North-west Provinces show the blue throat best, but the intensity of this colour appears to increase as the plumage gets worn. Both of the varieties are occasionally found in Southern India.
Distribution. Common and resident almost throughout India, Ceylon, and Burma. Wanting in the Himalayas, where this species rarely occurs, even in the lower ranges, though there are specimens from Kashmir and Murree in the Hume Collection. Absent also as a rule on the higher hills of the Peninsula, and iu some of the denser and damper forests. In Ceylon M. viridis is only found in the drier parts of the low country. In Tenasserim it has not been observed south of Mergui, and it does not occur in the Malay Peuinsula nor in the Andamans or Nicobars, though it is found in Siam and Cochin China. West of India it extends through Baluchistan and Southern Persia to North-eastern Africa.
Habits, &c. One of the commonest and most familiar of Indian birds ; a resident in general, but locally migratory in some places : thus it is said to leave the island of Bombay from April till September. It has the usual habits of Bee-eaters, but generally prefers a lower perch than the larger species; it lives on various insects, usually captured in the air, and it has a pleasant whistling note. It breeds from the middle of March till the beginning of June, and lays from 3 to 5 eggs at the end of a hole which it digs to a depth of 1 1/2 to 5 feet, usually in a bank or cliff. The eggs are spherical ovals, white and glossy, and measure about .78 by .7.