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A photo of a Lilac-breasted Roller (Coracias caudatus)
Lilac-breasted Roller

Lilac-breasted Roller

Coracias caudatus

The lilac-breasted roller (Coracias caudatus) is a member of the roller family, Coraciidae, resplendent in a panoply of pastel hues. This African bird is a sight to behold, with its lilac throat and breast, olive crown to mantle, and cheeks of lilac-rufous. The species is further adorned with long, black tail streamers, which juveniles lack. Unofficially, it is considered the national bird of Kenya.

Identification Tips

In the field, the lilac-breasted roller is almost unmistakable. Adults boast a lilac throat that deepens into a darker lilac breast, with an olive crown and mantle. The cheeks and ear coverts are a lilac-rufous. Juveniles and immatures can be identified by their lack of tail streamers and a throat and breast of rufous-tawny with broad diffuse buffy-white streaks. The species is not sexually dimorphic, though males may be slightly larger.

Habitat

The lilac-breasted roller favors open woodland and savanna, typically avoiding treeless expanses. They are often seen perched high, surveying the landscape for prey.

Distribution

This species is widely distributed across Southern and Eastern Africa and is a vagrant to the southern Arabian Peninsula. It is most abundant in Kenya and can be found from sea level to elevations of 2,000 meters or more.

Behaviour

Lilac-breasted rollers are usually solitary or found in pairs. They are known for their aggressive defense of their nests against raptors and other birds. During the breeding season, males perform acrobatic flights, swooping and diving while emitting harsh cries.

Song & Calls

The call is a harsh, sawing "rak rak rak," typically delivered in flight. The bird often perches to vocalize.

Breeding

The lilac-breasted roller is likely monogamous, nesting solitarily. Both sexes incubate the clutch of 2–4 eggs. The nest is located in a natural hole in a tree or termite mound, and the young are altricial, becoming fully feathered after 19 days.

Diet and Feeding

Their diet consists of arthropods and small vertebrates, including insects, spiders, scorpions, and small birds. They hunt from perches, swooping down to catch prey on the ground or in the air.

Conservation status

The IUCN lists the lilac-breasted roller as Least Concern, with a stable population size and a large range.

Lilac-breasted Roller Sounds


Recorded by: © 
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Lilac-breasted Roller Fun Facts

Did you know?
The Lilac-breasted Roller is the national bird of Kenya
Did you know?
The Lilac-breasted Roller, like all Roller species, are unique in having syndactyl feet; this is where the second and third digits is fused together.

Lilac-breasted Rollers on Birda

Sightings

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A photo of a Abyssinian Roller (Coracias abyssinicus)

Abyssinian Roller

Coracias abyssinicus
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