I am learning so much from this project! The bee-eater research was especially fun as I hunted them down in eBird; the colors are so bright and various. Here are my other sources: 10000birds.com, Wikipedia's Bee-eater article. Plus my brother told me about the seven species he's seen.
Stay tuned at the end for an amazing video from the Bronx Zoo, the very first day they fed bees to their captive bee-eater population. And another one where you can see the way the bee-eaters slap their food against a branch.
Crayon-box of bright colors
With a slash of black over their eyes,
Twenty seven species of bee-eaters
slap their prey on a branch before eating:
In Africa a Northern and Southern Carmine,
Rosy, Cinnamon-chested, Little, Somali,
Blue-moustached, and more;
Rainbow in Australia;
Asian ones Blue-bearded, Blue-cheeked, Blue-tailed;
There’s a Red-bearded in Malaysia,
Purple-bearded in Indonesia,
All slapping away:
You can see one in Queen Hatshepsut’s tomb.
Aristotle said to kill them to protect your bees.
Back when people wrote letters,
Bee-eater stamps winged their way around the world.
Hindus say if you gossip you’ll come back as a bee-eater.
They bathe in the dust and sun themselves,
And they grasp stinging bugs in their down-turned bills:
©Ruth Bowen Hersey
The bee-eaters are in the second half of the video, but I found the whole thing fascinating.
Here's a closer view of a bee-eater slapping its food.