Lilac - Breasted Roller

Lilac - Breasted Roller


The Lilac-breasted Roller is slightly bigger than the Cape Turtle Dove. It is a spectacularly coloured bird, with a lilac throat and breast and blue belly. It has long, straight outer tail streamers.


It is not very vocal, but in the breeding season in Spring makes a loud, harsh call mostly in flight.

Behaviour and habitat

They are usually found singly or in pairs, sitting on an exposed perch. They are fiercely territorial. They live in a wide variety of dry woodland, but are most abundant in the Okavango region. The name “roller” is derived from its’ aerial displays which it performs year round.   

The male climbs to about 20 to 50 m and then dives with closed wings at great speed, repeatedly rolling from side to side in latter part of descent, landing next to the female.

For nests they use natural tree cavities and large woodpecker holes. Their food consists of a variety of locusts, grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, butterflies and lizards.