Lilac-Breasted Roller Fact File
All the Colors of the Rainbow!
The lilac-breasted roller has approximately 12 feather colors in a variety of patterns across their body.
During their mating display the male and female will perform a number of twists and dives together giving rise to their name.
This species is the national bird of Kenya, a title which it shares with the rooster.
While considered common small numbers of these birds may be captured for the pet trade.
Read on to learn more about these beautiful birds.
What does the Lilac-Breasted Roller look like?
Male and female lilac-breasted rollers are similar in appearance. Their name is taken from the lilac colored patch of feathers present on their breast. The abdomen and underside of the wings are colored turquoise with dark blue trims on the underside of the wings. A white patch is present around the beak and chin.
Their tail is forked and in adults ends with a pair of black streamers which extend backwards from the body.
As with other species of roller the feet of the lilac-breasted roller are syndactyl meaning the second and third toe are fused. The lower portion of the leg is bare of feathers and colored yellow.
They have a thick black bill which has a hook at its tip. Their eye is colored brown.
An average lilac-breasted roller will measure 36cm (14in) long with a weight of up to 100g (3.9oz).
How does the Lilac-Breasted Roller survive in its habitat?
These birds appear to gather at the edge of fires. Here there are large numbers of insects attempting to flee the fire on which they can feed.
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What does the Lilac-Breasted Roller eat?
Lilac-breasted rollers are primarily carnivores which feed on a range on invertebrates such as crickets. They have also been observed to feed on small amphibians and birds.
These birds will rest on a perch and keep watch on the ground for food. When something is sighted they will quickly drop down on to it.
Learn more about the Lilac-Breasted Roller in this video from Animal Square on YouTube
Where do you find the Lilac-Breasted Roller?
Africa is the native home of the Lilac-Breasted Roller. Here they can be found in the following countries – Angola; Botswana; Burundi; Congo; The Democratic Republic of the Congo; Eswatini; Ethiopia; Kenya; Lesotho; Malawi; Mozambique; Namibia; Rwanda; Somalia; South Africa; Tanzania; Uganda; Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Where can the Lilac-Breasted Roller survive?
These animals can be found in forest, savanna and shrubland habitats. They make use of dead trees and man-made objects such as electricity poles to perch on when feeding.
Credit: Public Domain
How does the Lilac-Breasted Roller produce its young?
The mating display of the lilac-breasted roller involves both birds performing a range of dives and swoops while calling to one another.
Breeding takes place while in flight.
Once they become paired it is believed that the lilac-breasted roller is monogamous and will remain with its partner for life.
Their nest is constructed in a natural tree cavity or a termite hill. They do not line this nest.
Each clutch includes between two and four eggs. Both parents assist with incubating the eggs.
Fledglings are covered with grayish-brown down at birth but take on adult plumage by 20 days old.
What does the Lilac-Breasted Roller do during its day?
The call of the lilac-breasted roller is a harsh, 'zaakk' like call.
This species is highly territorial and will attack any intruders which attempt to enter their territory.
Credit: Public Domain
Predators and Threats
What stops the Lilac-Breasted Roller from surviving and thriving?
While no formal estimate of their population size has been created it is believed that this species is common.
Small numbers are collected to be kept as pets.
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The lilac breasted roller is the national bird of Kenya, a title which it shares with the rooster.
Credit: Public Domain
Krugerpark.co.za. 2022. Lilac Breasted Roller – Bird – Southern Africa…. [online] Available at: <https://www.krugerpark.co.za/africa_lilac_breasted_roller.html> [Accessed 15 March 2022].
Oiseaux-birds.com. 2022. Lilac-breasted Roller. [online] Available at: <http://www.oiseaux-birds.com/card-lilac-breasted-roller.html> [Accessed 15 March 2022].
Pairi Daiza. 2022. Lilac-breasted Roller. [online] Available at: <https://www.pairidaiza.eu/en/activities/lilac-breasted-roller> [Accessed 15 March 2022].
Dudleyzoo.org.uk. 2022. Lilac-breasted roller – Dudley Zoo and Castle. [online] Available at: <https://www.dudleyzoo.org.uk/animal/lilac-breasted-roller/> [Accessed 15 March 2022].
Pete Dobre. 2022. The Lilac – Breasted Roller. [online] Available at: <https://petedobre.com.au/the-lilac-breasted-roller/> [Accessed 15 March 2022].
2022. The Lilac-Breasted Roller: 5 Interesting Facts About Kenya’s National Bird. [online] Available at: <https://tsavotrust.org/the-lilac-breasted-roller-5-interesting-facts-about-kenyas-national-bird/> [Accessed 15 March 2022].
Watson, R., 2022. lilac-breasted roller | Camperdown Wildlife Centre. [online] Camperdownwildlifecentre.co.uk. Available at: <https://www.camperdownwildlifecentre.co.uk/our-animals/lilac-breasted-roller> [Accessed 15 March 2022].
Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve. 2022. Wild Facts Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve | Lilac Breasted Roller. [online] Available at: <https://www.sabisabi.com/wildfacts/lilac-breasted-roller/> [Accessed 15 March 2022].