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Roller, European

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa

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Jose
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Roller, European

Unread postby Jose » Wed Apr 05, 2006 8:26 pm

European Roller (Coracias garrulus)

Image
(Photo by Wild@Heart, used with permission)

Classification:
Order: Coraciformes
Family: Coraciidae
Genus: Coracias

Other names:
Afrikaans: Europese Troupant
French: Rollier d'Europe
German: Blauracke
Dutch: Scharrelaar
Portuguese: Rolieiro-europeu

Distribution: Palearctic from SW-E Europe to Kirghiz Steppes and Turkestan (although absent from the area between the Caspian and Aral seas). Range includes western China, the Mediterranean region, Near and Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, as well as Africa. An intercontinental migrant, with almost the entire world population wintering in sub-Saharan Africa.

Identification: The European Roller differs from the Lilac-breasted Roller and Racket-tailed Roller in having an all-blue head and a square-ended tail. Juvenile Racket-tailed may appear similar when the tail streamers are absent, but that species has a distinctive, white-streaked forehead and a green (not blue) crown and nape.
Male and female European Rollers are alike. The juvenile is more olive-green in colour.

Unlike other members of the genus which are mostly solitary, often many European Rollers are within sight of each other in bushveld. Outside the breeding season the bird travels in loose flocks. It sometimes roosts communally. They use a shrike-type approach to feeding, pouncing from an open perch on passing prey. They eat their prey on the ground or carry it back to the perch. It occationally catches prey in flight.
They are mainly insectivorous but will tackle scorpions, frogs, lizards and even small birds. Flight is sluggish but buoyant. When displaying the European Roller flies with the twists and turns that give the species its English name.

Call: Normally silent in the region but when alarmed it will give a "krack-krack" call.

Habitat: dry wooded savanna and bushy plains (i.e. during the migration period). In their breeding range the species prefers lowland open countryside with patches of oak forest, mature pine woodland with heathery clearings, orchards, mixed farmland, river valleys, and plains with scattered thorny or leafy trees.

Breeding: Nests in holes in trees or rock faces. Clutches of 1-3, sometimes 4, white eggs. Both sexes appear to incubate and provide for the young which leave the nest hole after about 25-30 days. In many cases woodpeckers are evicted from their nests and battles with other hole nesting birds, such as small owls and kingfishers, are not uncommon.

Status: Common summer visitor. While they are present throughout their migration period (October - April/May) it is during March and April that they are most noticeable. This is not just because they are starting to come into full breeding plumage but also because they are present in huge numbers, significantly outnumbering the resident species.

Conservation: Near threatened (2005 IUCN Red List Category, as evaluated by BirdLife International - the official Red List Authority for birds for IUCN).
With few exceptions, the species continued to decline across most of its European range during 1990-2000, including key populations in Turkey and Russia, and probably underwent a large decline (>30%) overall.
Studies show that because of traditional farming methods being replaced by monoculture and the use of pesticides, the large insects which form 90% of the European Roller diet, have disappeared. The decline in grazing by sheep is another factor that has influenced insect populations - large insects disappear due to the loss of open habitat.

Other: More information about the European Rollers' migration, including a map, can be found here
Edit: edited and added links.

edit by gwen: image disappeared
Last edited by Jose on Tue Apr 10, 2007 7:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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cybeR@NGER
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Unread postby cybeR@NGER » Wed Apr 05, 2006 11:59 pm

If I may just add a little bit more info on the migratory routine of these amazing birds:

They breed in warm, dry areas from Morocco and Spain north to Poland, east to western Siberia and northern India, but majority west of Urals.
During August-September they pack their bags and departure from these breeding grounds to Africa mostly over eastern Mediterranean, passing through Ethiopia and then Uganda and Kenya. They touch down far north of southern Africa by October and progressively later further south. In Eastern and Western Cape, generally only from late December or January.
Their summer holiday normally ends by April-May when again, they pack their bags and departure quickly in a spectacular migration of hundreds of thousands of birds in a few hours along the coast from Tanzania to Somalia.
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Unread postby leopardspotter » Tue Sep 19, 2006 9:09 pm

I saw this guy in January, just north of Letaba eating a small grasshopper.
Image :wink:

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Unread postby DuQues » Wed Sep 20, 2006 3:53 pm

Maybe due to the warmer summers lately, but it is really becoming a "European" roller. It has been sighted in Holland in many places along the coast, up to the Texel island.
Arriving currently: The photos from our trip! Overhere! :yaya:

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c

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Unread postby Impisi08 » Sun Sep 24, 2006 11:02 am

Image

Near Balule.

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Unread postby Bush Baptist » Sat Jun 07, 2008 8:25 pm

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Unread postby ecojunkie » Sun Jun 08, 2008 7:38 am

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Unread postby Jock » Tue Jun 24, 2008 1:39 pm

We found European Rollers everywhere when in the park in February. This fellow was just too beautiful to go past without a picture.

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Re: Roller, European

Unread postby DinkyBird » Sat Mar 28, 2009 6:21 pm

Kruger, March 2009
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Sawubona
Dalene

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Yolandé Oelsen
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Re: Roller, European

Unread postby Yolandé Oelsen » Sat Mar 28, 2009 8:00 pm

Great photo, Dinkybird! :clap:
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DinkyBird
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Re: Roller, European

Unread postby DinkyBird » Sun Mar 29, 2009 9:09 pm

Thanks Y :D

Sharing another pic taken two weeks ago. These little guys are all over Kruger at the mo.
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wildheart
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Re: Roller, European

Unread postby wildheart » Wed Apr 01, 2009 1:46 pm

We were lucky to record a whole conversation. :lol:

Europese Troupant

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Re: Roller, European

Unread postby JenB » Wed Apr 01, 2009 2:13 pm

wildheart! :D
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Yolandé Oelsen
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Re: Roller, European

Unread postby Yolandé Oelsen » Thu Apr 02, 2009 10:27 pm

One of many in Kruger...

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Elsa
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Re: Roller, European

Unread postby Elsa » Wed Apr 08, 2009 4:38 pm

Seen in Feb/March in Kruger this year.

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