Rainbow Birds (Merops ornatus): Australia is the home of many beautiful birds. Rainbow Birds are one of our most colourful. They are about the size of the better known Willie Wagtail. One author describes them as a “gorgeous pale-green and blue bird of graceful flight”. We cannot do better than this description. Two distinctive slender feathers extend beyond the tail feathers. They also have slender curved beaks that are perfectly adapted to catch insects on the wing.
Rainbow Birds are migratory. They winter in South-east Asia then move south to Australia in September-October and arrive in large flocks. Rainbow Birds then pair off and commence nesting. In autumn they congregate again before heading north.
They nest in the ground and dig holes in sandy soil. We have seen them nesting in a sandy bank in Lismore on the North Coast, in many places in the Warrumbungle National Park and near Bingara, west of Armidale. The image is taken from one of our paintings and shows a number of Rainbow Birds perching in a Grevillea in the Bungle Bungle National Park situated in the Kimberley area of Western Australia.