; class Aves, order Coraciiformes)
A family of small to medium-sized, brightly coloured birds which have long, slender, decurved bills, long, pointed wings, and syndactylous feet. Many have elongated central tail feathers, others (e.g. Merops species) have square or forked tails; some have long throat feathers. They inhabit forest and open country, feed on insects, particularly bees and wasps, and nest colonially in burrows in a bank. There are three genera, with 24 species, many migratory, found in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australasia. (Merops apiaster is the only species that breeds in Europe.)
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.