Rainbow Bee-eaterScientific name: Merops ornatus

Meaning of name: Merops is Greek for bee-eater. Ornatus is Latin for ornate.

Aboriginal name: Birinbirin (beer’in’beer’in).

Distribution: Widespread on mainland Australia.

Description: This bird is about 19cm long with a wingspan up to 34cm. The central tail-streamers add another 2-5cm to the length of male birds and 1-2cm to females.

Notes: The tail-streamers can become damaged while the birds are nesting. The nest is an underground chamber at the end of a tunnel that can be 1m long.

The furthest distance recorded by the Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme for this species of bird to travel is 18km. The oldest bird recorded was still alive when its band was read in July 2005, 4 years 7.1 months after being banded (information as at 20 June 2012).

References: Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Various contributors.
What Bird is That? Neville W Cayley. 1978

Aboriginal names of bird species in south-west Western Australia, with suggestions for their adoption into common usage. Ian Abbott. 2009. Conservation Science Western Australia Journal. Volume 7 No 2  http://www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/about-us/science-and-research/76-publications-and-resources/103-conservation-science-wa-journal

Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/science/abbbs/abbbs-search.html