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Roller, Lilac-breasted

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa

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Jose
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Rollers: Lilac-breasted Roller

Unread postby Jose » Thu Mar 30, 2006 5:59 pm

Lilac-breasted Roller (Coracias caudatus [C. caudata])

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Somewhere along the H1-8, December 2004.

Classification:
Order: Coraciformes
Family: Coraciidae
Genus: Coracias

Other names:
Afrikaans: Gewone troupant
French: Rollier à longs brins
German: Gabelracke
Dutch: Vorkstaartscharrelaar
Portuguese: Rolieiro-de-peito-lilás

Identification: The Lilac-breasted Roller is a fairly large (32-36 cm), brightly coloured bird. It is distinguished from the similar Racket-tailed Roller by its obviously lilac (not blue) breast, generally paler coloration, and pointed, elongated outer tail feathers. Adults lose the elongated tail feathers during the winter moult.

Rollers have strong, short, bills with a hooked tip to the upper mandible. The Lilac-breasted Roller has a blackish bill and yellowish-green or green feet and legs. The eye is dark.
Male and female are alike. The breast is a brilliant lilac colour, streaked with white. The belly is sky blue and the wing coverts are various shades of blue. The crown is greenish-turquoise and the rump and tail are bright blue.
There is a white patch on the forehead, and around the dark eyes. In flight the totally blue wings are a spectacular sight, with stunning contrast between the sky-blue inner wing and the dark blue feather ends.
The juvenile lacks the elongated tail feathers but the lilac breast differentiates it from juvenile European and Racket-tailed Rollers.

It has a spectacular display, which can be seen in the breeding season, when it flies high above the woodland calling loudly. The bird will fly with a curious rolling motion, involving twists and turns. It then suddenly turns and dives down on open wings.

Lilac-breasted Rollers are usually seen solitary or in pairs. The bird perches conspicuously on top of bushes, trees or telephone wires from where it can see the surrounding terrain. It rocks from side to side when diving to perch. It generally flies down to the ground to catch its prey.
The main food is insects, including locusts, beetles, caterpillars and ants, but it is also known to take small lizards and small birds. The bird is attracted to grassfires because of the disturbing effect these have on its prey.

Call: A harsh, grating "rak-zak-zaak, zak-zak-zak, zak-raak", usually uttered in display. Otherwise generally a quiet bird.

Habitat: Savanna and thornveld, preferring less wooded areas.

Breeding: From August to December. The nest is in a natural hole in a tree, 2-6 metres above the ground.

Status: Common resident.

Distribution: Widely distributed throughout Africa, South of the Congo basin as well as in East Africa.

Conservation: Not threatened.

Other: As published in A review of African birds feeding in association with mammals by W.R.J. Dean and I.A.W. MacDonald, Lilac-breasted Rollers have been observed following other animals and catching insects disturbed by them (Kudu, Transvaal; Elephant, Zimbabwe).
A personal observation by myself was of Lilac-breasted Rollers swooping down in front of approaching cars to catch that one last, too good to let it get away, grasshopper. At least that's what I thought at first. But after joking about their kamikaze talents and suicide attempts for a while, it suddenly dawned on me that they were actually waiting for the cars to stir the insects from the side of the road.
This was on N'wanetsi road just before the turn off to Satara, and we watched them for over an hour. Did not manage one single decent pic of one in flight though.
Last edited by Jose on Mon Apr 09, 2007 1:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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richardharris
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Unread postby richardharris » Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:22 pm

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Fabulous bird - one of the most attractive in the Park - and yet one of the commonest as well. If only this was the same in the UK!

Their habit of flying down on to roads is sometimes their undoing. You occasionally see one that has been hit by a car.

All of the rollers are very beautiful, though some are local and scarse (eg racket-tailed in the far north) or seasonal (the very common European summer visitor, and the somewhat different broadbilled summer visiot to the north of the Park).

Richard

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Unread postby Bush Baptist » Fri Mar 31, 2006 7:39 am

I saw a pair mating on the S113 off the H3 in 2001
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saraf
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Unread postby saraf » Fri Mar 31, 2006 12:33 pm

Being a novice birder I likethem because they are so easy to identify. :)

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Last edited by saraf on Fri Mar 31, 2006 10:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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bert
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Unread postby bert » Wed Apr 12, 2006 8:36 pm

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Found this one from my recent trip
When coming from western europe in a KNP winter this is the bird that gives me a summer feeling. 8)

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wildtuinman
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Unread postby wildtuinman » Tue Jun 13, 2006 8:08 am

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richardharris
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Unread postby richardharris » Mon Jun 26, 2006 8:07 pm

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My contribution to the LBR!

As for the racket-tailed, I have seen two, both in the plains between Punda and Parfuri - not exactly densly wooded areas. Failed to find one this trip.


Richard

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Last edited by richardharris on Mon Jun 26, 2006 10:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Yvonne B.
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Unread postby Yvonne B. » Sun Sep 17, 2006 12:34 am

One of my favourite birds, always a joy to see them. This one was on the S36 end of July 2006. He was too cold to fly away
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Unread postby DinkyBird » Mon Sep 25, 2006 9:36 pm

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Olifants River bed nead Balule - Sept 2006

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Crash landing! Near Balule - Sept 2006
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Roller

Unread postby Willielieb » Mon Feb 26, 2007 9:32 am

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Willie

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Unread postby cybeR@NGER » Tue Apr 22, 2008 3:02 pm

Last edited by cybeR@NGER on Wed Apr 23, 2008 1:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Neil Crawford
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Unread postby Neil Crawford » Thu May 22, 2008 9:41 pm

Heres my Lilac breated roller offering.
/Neil
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2073/218 ... 0486_m.jpg
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Unread postby Bush Baptist » Sat Jun 07, 2008 6:40 pm

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Whatever (according to BB): "You are correct but I don't want to admit it".

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Elsa
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Unread postby Elsa » Fri Jun 27, 2008 9:25 am

A couple of our recent pics of this beautiful bird seen in Kruger last month.

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Johann
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Unread postby Johann » Thu Jul 17, 2008 4:06 pm

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