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(vertebrate zoology)
An order of predominantly tropical and frequently brightly colored birds.



an order of birds. The body ranges in length from 9 (todies) to 160 cm (hornbills). The plumage is generally rough and bright, often with a metallic sheen.

There are nine families: Alcedinidae (kingfishers), Todidae (todies), Momotidae (motmots), Meropidae (bee eaters), Coraciidae (rollers; including the European roller), Leptostomatidae (one species—the cuckoo-roller—on Madagascar and the Comoro Islands), Upupidae (hoopoe), Phoeniculidae (wood-hoopoes), and Bucerotidae (hornbills). In all, there are 194 species. Eleven species, including five migratory ones, are found in the USSR. These include kingfishers, bee eaters, rollers (the broad-mouthed dollarbird and the European roller), and hoopoes.

Most species inhabit the tropics and sub tropics; a few penetrate temperate latitudes, migrating to warmer areas for the winter (except the kingfisher). The birds settle predominantly on the forest edge, but there are species that live in the steppes, semideserts, and deserts. The Coraciiformes are monogamous. Some live in flocks and settle in colonies (bee eaters). The unlined nests are constructed in closed places—in tree hollows, in rock crevices, in burrows dug into cliffs or into flat places, and, sometimes, in buildings (hoopoes). There are 1 to 9 white eggs per clutch. The hatchlings are born naked and blind and develop slowly. The birds feed on insects and other arthropods and on small vertebrates; hornbills feed mainly on fruits. Bee eaters are often considered destructive, because they eat bees.


Shul’pin, L. M. Ornitologiia. Leningrad, 1940.
Zhizn’ zhivotnykh, Vol. 5. Moscow, 1970.