1031. Nyctiornis athertoni.
The Blue-bearded Bee-eater.
Merops athertoni, Jard. Selby, Ill. Orn. ii, pi. 58 (1829). Nyctiornis athertoni, Horsf. & M. Cat. p. 89; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 211; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xliii, pt. 2, p. 153 ; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burma, p. 73 ; Hume & Inglis, S. F. v, p. 18; Fairbank, ibid. p. 394; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 68; Hume, S. F. vii, p. 203 ; xi, p. 42; id. Cat. no. 122; Anderson, Yunnan Exped., Aves, p. 583; Bingham, S. F. ix, pp. 153, 472; Butler, ibid. p. 382; Davison, S. F. x, p. 351; Macgregor, ibid. p. 436 ; Oates, B. B. ii. p. 63; id. in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 58; Dresser, Mon. Mer. p. 7, pl. 3 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 96; Davidson, Jour. Bomb. N. H. Soc. vi, p. 333; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xvii, p. 88. Bucia nepalensis, Hodgson, J. A. S. B. v, p. 361 (1836). Merops cyanogularis, Jerdon, Mad. Jour. L. S. xi, p. 229 (1840). Alcemerops athertonii, Blyth, Cat. p. 52.
The Blue-necked Bee-eater, Jerdon ; Bukay Chera, Nepal; Sang-rhyok, Lepcha; Pya-too-huet, Burmese.
Coloration. Forehead, sometimes to vertex, pale verditer-blue; whole upper parts, with sides of neck and breast and upper surface of wings and tail, grass-green; chin, middle of throat and of upper breast, forming a broad line, light blue, the long breast-feathers deep verditer except at the margins ; lower surface from breast, including the wing-lining, ochreous buff, streaked with broad green shaft-stripes from breast to vent; tail-feathers dull ochreous yellow beneath, their outer margins and tips blackish.
Bill horny, light at the base below ; iris brown; legs fleshy brown, tinged with green (Oates).
Length 14; tail 5.25 ; wing 5.8 ; tarsus .7; bill from gape 2.3. The female somewhat less.
Distribution. Resident throughout the Lower Himalayas as far west as Dehra Dun, from the plains to about 4000 feet, also from Assam to Tenasserim, Siam, and Cambodia, throughout the Burmese countries, in the larger forests. This Bee-eater is replaced in Southern Tenasserim by the next species, but it is found in the Malabar forests from the neighbourhood of Belgaum to Travancore. The only other reported .occurrence in the Peninsula of India is at Sambalpur, whence there are two skins in the Hume Collection. Not known in Ceylon.
Habits, &c. A forest-bird, usually seen solitary or in pairs, perching on high trees, and capturing insects on the wing. The eggs were obtained by Major Bingham in Tenasserim from a hole 7 feet deep in the bank of a stream on April 23rd; they were four in number, hard-set, nearly round, white and glossy, and measured about 1.1,4 by 1.03. Several similar nests and eggs were taken by Mr. Davidson in Kanara at the end of March, and by Mr. E. C. Steuart Baker in Cachar from March till June. It was long supposed, doubtless erroneously, that this bird might breed in holes of trees.