28 cm. Bright blue back, wings and tail, chestnut head, shoulders, flanks and lower belly, white throat and breast, bright red bill and legs, in flight large white patches are visible on the blue and black wings. Sexes are similar; juveniles are a duller version of the adult.
Sri Lanka,Egypt and Turkey east through Middle East and South Asia to the Philippines.
Six subspecies are recognized smyrnensis, fusca, saturatior, perpulchra, fokiensis, and gularis.
Habitats with some trees, not always near water.
The diet includes large insects, rodents, snakes, fish and frogs. It is reputed to eat tired migratory passerine birds like Chiffchaffs where the opportunity arises.The nest is a 50cm tunnel in an earth bank. 4-7 round white eggs are laid.