The lilac-breasted roller is of the most colourful birds found in Namibia. Even those who are not overly interested in birdwatching will be impressed by the flash of turquoise and ultramarine during flight.
Lilac-breasted rollers are found throughout southern and eastern Africa. They are not migratory birds. They like to live near open woodland and savannah so long as there are trees or high perches to scan the surrounding landscape for food. For this reason you will not find them in the Namib Desert.
About 30cm in size. As the name suggests, these birds have a lilac throat & breast, green on the top of their heads while the rest is mainly a striking turquoise with darker royal blue on the edges of their wings. They have a forked tail with long, thin streamers on the outer feathers.
Typically the lilac-breasted roller is a solitary bird or found in pairs. They find a good vantage point to look for prey. Once spotted, they drop onto their victim, often beating their prey against a hard surface to kill it before swallowing it whole. While bush fires can be devastating to many animals & birds, rollers deliberately hunt near the edges of fires to catch fleeing prey that’s less wary of predators. Anyone for braaied (barbecued) centipede?!? Rollers are also known for their acrobatic flying skills, aided by the tail streamers which act as rudders.
Insects, lizards, amphibians, rodents, & small birds.
The male’s courtship display includes flying to great heights, plunging in darts & dives, while letting out harsh cries. This is the reason they have been called rollers. They tend to be monogamous & highly territorial. They lay 2-4 eggs which are incubated by both sexes for c.3 weeks. After hatching, the chicks rely on parental care for up to 7-8 weeks.