This genus may be recognized by its remarkable stiff tail,, almost recalling that of a Woodpecker, and by its equally singular bill, of which the upper mandible is much swollen at the base and as far forward as the nostrils ; the culmen is concave, the anterior part of the bill broad and flat, the nail very small, the upper mandible overlapping the lower. The nostrils are large, nearer to the base of the bill than to the tip ; lamellae coarse. The wings are short; the tail about half the length of the wing, cuneate, composed of 18 very stiff, narrow, pointed feathers ; tarsi short; feet large, hind toe broadly lobed.
Seven species are known, widely distributed, but the majority are peculiar to the Southern hemisphere. One species is an occasional visitor to India.