The little green bee-eater (Merops orientalis) is an exquisite little bird with bright emerald green plumage. The little green bee-eater can be identified by a narrow black stripe on its throat, known as a ‘gorget’, as well as a black ‘mask’ that runs through its crimson eyes. Also distinctive are the two central, long, narrow, black tail streamers. The wings are largely green, sometimes tinted with gold or reddish-brown, and have a black trailing edge. The crown may be green, or may be strongly tinged with reddish-brown, and the bill is long and black. Eight subspecies of the little green bee-eater are recognised: Merops orientalis viridissimu, Merops orientalis cleopatra, Merops orientalis flavoviridis, Merops orientalis muscatensis, Merops orientalis cyanophrys, Merops orientalis beludschicus, Merops orientalis orientalis and Merops orientalis ferrugeiceps. The subspecies may differ slightly in appearance. For example, the throat and chin of the little green bee-eater is electric blue in the Arabian Peninsula. Like other bee-eaters, this species is a richly coloured, slender bird. It is about 9 inches (16–18 cm) long with about 2 inches made up by the elongated central tail-feathers. The sexes are not visually distinguishable. The entire plumage is bright green and tinged with blue especially on the chin and throat. The crown and upper back are tinged with golden rufous. The flight feathers are rufous washed with green and tipped with blackish. A fine black line runs in front of and behind the eye. The iris is crimson and the bill is black while the legs are dark grey. The feet are weak with the three toes joined at the base. Southeast Asian birds have rufous crown and face, and green underparts, whereas Arabian beludschicus has a green crown, blue face and bluish underparts. The wings are green and the beak is black. The elongated tail feathers are absent in juveniles. Sexes are alike. The calls is a nasal trill tree-tree-tree-tree, usually given in flight.
green in northern Africa and Southeast Asia, yellow in Sudan, and pale green-blue in India.