Lilac Breasted Roller

The Lilac Breasted Roller is small and prefers to live in savannas and open woodlands where it has access to trees for perching and nesting.

The African Fish Eagle is a is a large species of eagle found throughout sub-Saharan Africa wherever large bodies of open water with an abundant food supply occur.

Rollers, in general, owe their common name to their mating display, which consists of a lot of dives and swoops accompanied by loud and harsh cries. During a mating flight, a lilac-breasted roller will fly upwards for about ten meters (33 feet) and then swoop down with wings closed. In another aerial stunt, the lilac-breasted roller will roll from side to side while flying very fast. If the aerial courtship is successful, the two birds will mate in the air.


The Lilac Breasted Roller (Coracias caudata)has around 8 colors; green, white, black, yellow, turquoise, dark blue, reddish brown, and of course lilac. That is one colorful bird!


A lilac-breasted roller can be 36 to 38 cm (14.2 to 15 in) long, and that length includes the tail which can be 8 to 9 cm (3.1 to 3.5 in) long. It has an average weight of 104 grams (3.7 ounces) and a wingspan between 50 and 58 cm (19.7 and 22.8 in). The shoulder of the wing, outer webs of the flight feathers and the rump are all turquoise. The males are slightly larger than the females.The beak is strong, arched and hooked-tipped.

The lilac-breasted roller prefers to live in savannas and open woodlands where it has access to trees for perching and nesting. Conversely, it avoids treeless areas. They are territorial, also defending temporarily small feeding territories; hence individuals are regularly spaced along roads. They drive off many species from near their nest hole, even after breeding.

The Lilac Breasted Roller feeds on insects like grasshoppers, beetles, occasionally lizards, scorpions, and small amphibians. Lilac-breasted rollers like to perch on high treetops or telephone poles to watch for their prey. When they see something, they will swoop down and batter their target with their wings. After beating their prey into submission, they will swallow it whole. One typical aspect of its behavior is that it also preys on animals fleeing from bush fires. It is a swift flier. In turn various birds of prey are the main predators of the lilac-breasted roller.

Lilac Breasted Roller make unlined nests in natural tree holes or in termite hills. Sometimes they take over woodpecker's or kingfisher's nest holes. They lay 2-4 white eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for 22-24 days.The hatchlings are altricial, which means they can’t move around on their own and need parental care. It takes about 19 days for their feathers to grow. The chicks will remain with their parents for another month.Lilac-breasted rollers lay only one set of eggs per year. They are ready to breed when they are around two years old and have an average life expectancy of around ten years in the wild. All rollers appear to be monogamous.

The species ranges more or less continuously throughout eastern and southern Africa from the Red Sea coasts of Ethiopia and northwest Somalia to the Angola coast and northern South Africa. Lilac Breasted Rollers inhabit acacia country with well spaced trees, rolling bushy game lands, riverside areas and cultivated land, but they do not associate with human habitation. The lilac-breasted roller can live anywhere between sea level and up to a little over 2000 meters (6562 feet) above sea level.

They live in pairs or small groups, but are often seen alone. Their call is a loud harsh squawk, 'zaaak'. They are partly migratory, but in some areas they are sedentary.

The lilac-breasted roller has a variety of names in other languages:

  • French: Rollier à longs brins
  • Dutch: Vorkstaartscharrelaar
  • German: Gabelracke
  • Italian: Ghiandaia marina pettolilla
  • Spanish: Carraca lila
  • Afrikaans: Troupant

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