(Merops Apiaster, Linn.—Le Guepier, Buff.)
THE bill is about one inch and three-eighths long from the tip to where the ridge on the upper mandible meets the white feathers of the brow; it is of a somewhat triangular shape, and of a dark colour, thickish at the base, curved, and small at the tip; the nostrils are nearly covered with hairy looking feathers; the eye-brows green; a stripe of black passes from the corners of the mouth over the eyes, and terminates behind the auriculars, and tapers off towards the hinder part of the neck; the crown of the head, hinder part of the neck, the back, and upper plumage are mostly in deeper and lighter shades of a brilliant reddish chesnut, but the terminations of the shoulder feathers, which fall over the scapulars, partake of pale or whitish yellow; the chin and upper part of the neck are yellow, boundered by a black line; below this, towards the shoulders, and all the under parts, are of a glossy verditer green; the lesser coverts are green; the scapulars, some of the secondaries, the primaries, and the tail are also of that colour, but shaded off with yellow brown; the tail is long, and somewhat forked, the two middle feathers longest, and pointed; the legs and feet, which are similar in conformation to those of the King-fisher, are black; and, like that bird, it makes its nest in the banks of rivers, at the end of a long hole; the eggs are white, and nearly oval; from these circumstances, the general contour of its figure, and its brilliant plumage, it bears some affinity to the genus Alcedo. This beautiful and rare visitant has sometimes been met with in Devonshire.
Through the medium of the late Lieut. J. A. Howard, of the seventy-third regiment, we have obtained from Mr Leadbeater, Bird and Animal Preserver to the British Museum, the specimen* from which our figure was taken, and beg to acknowledge our obligations for the facilities thus afforded to the work.
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