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Lilac-breasted Roller

Coracias caudatus


36 - 38cm

50 - 58cm

100 - 110g

9 - 10 yrs





The lilac-breasted roller is a member of the roller family of birds found in sub-Saharan Africa and the southern Arabian Peninsula. It is sometimes known as the fork-tailed roller, lilac-throated roller and Mosilikatze's roller and also has a distinct subspecies known as the blue-breasted or pink-throated roller. It is regarded unofficially as the national bird of Kenya.

Least Concern




These crow-sized birds are almost unmistakable with their bright plumage, notably their lilac throat that deepens into a darker lilac breast. The crown to mantle is olive, and the cheeks and ear coverts are a lilac-rufous. They have long black outer tail feathers that are absent in juveniles. Both sexes are alike, but the males may be slightly larger.

What Does it Look Like?


What Does it Sound Like?


The call of the lilac-breasted roller is a harsh, sawing "rak rak rak" that is used primarily during flight. Throughout the breeding season, the males will rise to great heights and then – true to its name - descend into swoops, rolls and dives whilst uttering harsh, discordant cries. Generally, the bird will sing whilst perched.


Its diet primarily consists of ground-dwelling insects, arthropods, amphibians, and other small vertebrates. When hunting, they will perch to scout out prey from a higher vantage point before swooping in. Small prey will be swallowed on the ground, whilst larger prey will be taken back to a perch and beaten until it is dismembered.

What Does it Eat?


Where Does it Nest?


They build flat nests of grass in dead trees such as baobab, using cavities hollowed out by woodpeckers or kingfishers. In southern Africa, the average clutch size is two to four eggs. Male and female partners will take turns incubating the eggs for 22 to 24 days. Hatchlings become fully feathered after 19 days.


They are found throughout southern and eastern Africa. They are common in Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, but are most abundant in Kenya. It lives amongst grassland with trees and shrubs, which they use as perching sites. They gather at farms when land is burnt for agricultural use, as the fires stir up easy prey

Where Does it Live?


What is its Status?


According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), it is considered of Least Concern due to their confidence in its stable population and large range. However, it is very rarely seen outside of areas with protected status. where it can be sighted regularly alongside roads and paths.

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