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Bee-eaters are small- to medium-sized birds that are graceful in appearance and actions, and with an alert, upright posture when perched. They are active, colorful, and social birds with a large head; short neck; long, narrow, down-curved bill; green wings with a broad black tailing edge; long, simply patterned tail; long-looking central feathers (in many species); very short legs; and weak feet. Most bee-eaters have bright green up-perparts; buff or chestnut colored underparts; various colorful head and facial patterns; and black, blue, or reddish purple eye mask. They usually have a black band on the upper breast, and the chin and throat are snowy, bright yellow, red, or blue. Wings are rounded in forest species, and long and pointed in open country species.
In all species, males and females are similar, though males can be brighter in color than females and usually have longer tail streamers (long central tail feathers). Young bee-eaters are generally less colorful than adults. Adults are 6.7 to 13.8 inches (17 to 35 centimeters) long (including the tail) and weigh between 0.5 and 3.0 ounces (15 and 85 grams).
Bee-eaters range throughout the tropics of the Old World, with their center of population in northern and tropical Africa. They are also found in Madagascar, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, and Australia.
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