Bill like that of Miglyptes, curved above, without nasal ridge, but the chin-angle is nearer to the tip than to the gape ; nostrils rounded and exposed; wing rounded; tail-feathers pointed, the outer pair just exceeding the tail-coverts in length ; first toe very short, its claw very small, third and fourth toes subequal. Plumage throughout pale chestnut with black bars, which vary greatly in development in different species.
The genus Micropternus extends throughout the Oriental region; three species, which are merely geographical races, separated by very slight characters, and tending greatly to pass into each other, being found within our area. They are birds of very singular habits, having a peculiar, strong, unpleasant smell, and living chiefly or entirely on tree-ants. Their plumage is almost always smeared with a gummy substance derived from ants' nests, and the heads of ants are often found attached to their tail-feathers. Moreover, they lay their eggs in holes made in the large ants' nests that are so common in India attached to branches of trees or bamboos.
Key to the Species.
a. Central part of pale-edged chin and throat-feathers of same colour as breast………………….M. phaeoceps, p. 55.
b. Central part of chin and throat-feathers darker than breast.
a1. Pale-bordered throat-feathers extend to malar region………………….M. brachyurus, p. 57.
b1. Pale-edged throat-feathers do not extend to malar region………………….M. gularis, p. 57.