Coracias caudatus (Lilac-breasted roller) 

[= Coracias caudata

Gewone troupant [Afrikaans]; iFefe (also applied to European roller) [Zulu]; Sikambu (generic term for roller) [Kwangali]; Matlakela [North Sotho]; Gatawa (generic name for roller) [Shona]; Vhevhe (generic term for roller) [Tsonga]; LetlÍrÍtlÍrÍ, LetlhakÍla [Tswana]; Vorkstaartscharrelaar [Dutch]; Rollier ŗ longs brins [French]; Gabelracke [German]; Rolieiro-de-peito-lilŠs [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Coraciiformes > Family: Coraciidae

Coracias caudatus (Lilac-breasted roller)  Coracias caudatus (Lilac-breasted roller) 
Lilac-breasted roller. [photo Callie de Wet ©] Lilac-breasted roller holding katydid. [photo Callie de Wet ©]
Coracias caudatus (Lilac-breasted roller)  Coracias caudatus (Lilac-breasted roller) 
Lilac-breasted roller. [photo Callie de Wet ©] Lilac-breasted roller. [photo Callie de Wet ©]

The Lilac-breasted roller is found from Eritrea and Somalia south to the northern half of southern Africa, where it is common in dry woodland. It feeds on a wide variety of animals, preferring insects over reptiles, arachnids, birds and rodents. It usually uses cavities in trees as nest sites, 2-8 m above ground, although it is capable of kicking other birds out of their nests. It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes, for 17-25 days. The chicks stay in the nest for about 19 days, after which it is dependent on its parents for about 20 more days.

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from Ethiopia south through Tanzania, southern DRC, Zambia and Angola to southern Africa. Within southern Africa it is common in Namibia (excluding the Namib Desert), Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and north-eastern South Africa. It generally prefers dry woodland, such as Acacia savanna, miombo woodland, palm savanna and mopane woodland. It often occupies the border between woodland and grassy clearings, using the former for breeding and the latter for foraging.

Distribution of Lilac-breasted roller in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Call

 
   

Recorded by A.C Kemp, Harare, Zimbabwe 1982, [© Transvaal Museum]

 

Predators

Food

It feeds on a wide variety of animals, especially insects, mainly hunting by sitting tight on a perch before pouncing on nearby prey. The following animals have been recorded in its diet:

Breeding

  • Monogamous solitary nester, vigorously defending its nest againts intruders, even outside the breeding season.
  • It usually uses cavities in trees as nest sites, 2-8 m above ground. It may also kick other birds out of their nests, such as Green wood-hoopoe or Cape Glossy starling. It also uses nest boxes and termite mounds as nests.
Coracias caudatus (Lilac-breasted roller)   

Lilac-breasted roller in its nest in a fence pole, Nylsvley, South Africa.[photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

 
  • Egg-laying season is from August-February, peaking from September-December.
  • It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for 17-25 days.
  • The chicks stay in the nest for about 19 days, after which they are dependent on their parents for about 20 more days.

Threats

Not threatened, in fact common in many areas of southern Africa.

References

  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

 

 

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