Found throughout mainland Australia, except desert areas. Also ranges across eastern Indonesia, New Guinea and, rarely, the Solomon Islands.
Occupies open forests, woodlands, heathlands, shrublands, coastal sand dunes and cleared areas, usually near water. It will be found on farmland with remnant vegetation and in orchards and vineyards. Uses disturbed sites such as quarries, but also sand dunes and grassed sandy areas to build its nesting tunnels. Preys on insects, mainly catching bees and wasps, as well as dragonflies, beetles, butterflies and moths.
It catches flying insects on the wing and carries them back to a perch to beat them against it before swallowing them.
Atlas of Living Australia at Merops ornatus Accessed 29 July 2020.
Birdlife Australia at https://birdlife.org.au/bird-profile/rainbow-bee-eater Accessed 27 July 2020.