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One of the most beautiful sights to see in nature is the Lilac Breasted Roller. This colourful bird is found in Southern and Eastern Africa, and if you’re not lucky, you’ll be able to spot this small but vibrant creature. Many birders agree that seeing these feathery friends out in the wilderness is a memorable experience. There is so much more to this bird than just its bright colours, for example, they’re great fliers and love eating insects.

What They Are

The Lilac Breasted Roller is part of the roller family of birds which is known as the Coraciidae. They have green heads perched on a dark lilac breast above their turquoise abdomen. This is complemented by their reddish-brown wings and their turquoise forked tail that ends in black streamers. In total, these little guys can sport up to eight different colours. Besides the colours in their name, why are they called rollers? This comes from their mating display which consists of dives and swoops in mid-air.

What They Do

During their mating flight, they’ll fly up to a staggering 10 metres and then dive down with their wings tightly tucked to their bodies. This is an amazing feat considering they measure around 36 to 38cm long, including their tail. They may look quite sweet but these birds are very territorial and are known to chase off intruders from their next as well as from their favourite hunting grounds. A few of their predators include eagles and falcons, thankfully, their population is stable and not considered endangered.

Interesting Facts

  • The lilac breasted roller enjoys eating beetles and grasshoppers and occasionally indulge in snails, small reptiles and rodents.
  • They take advantage of high treetops or telephone poles to look out for their prey.
  • They also reap the rewards of a bush fire, by circling the edge of the blaze to eat the fleeing insects.
  • These little birds are believed to be monogamous because they mate for life.
  • They may be beautiful but they emit quite a harsh, loud call.
  • They opt for trees with natural holes or abandoned nests to live in and they will aggressively defend their chosen nest.

Are you an avid bird watcher? Book your stay at Yingwe Lodge and you’ll be likely to spot a lilac breasted roller.