Wonderful wildlife: The lilac-breasted roller

The lilac-breasted roller is not only the most common roller found in Southern Africa, but it is without a doubt the most beautiful as well. The coracias caudatus is the proud owner of eight different coloured feathers on their 35 cm body. Greens, browns, lilac, blues and whites make up some of this aerial stunt artists vivid shades.

Said to be mates for life, the lilac-breasted roller is usually spotted alone or in pairs in the wild. Across the South Luangwa National Park, these colourful little creatures are hard to miss when sitting amongst the thickets keeping a keen eye out for insects, reptiles, frogs and rodents. Even better, to see a lilac-breasted roller seemingly fall out of the sky before rolling back up only to repeat the same action again is second to none. This technique of rolling whilst in flight is adopted by the male coracias caudatus and used to stand up to rivals after their mates and to distract predators from their nests.

Quick facts

  • Weight: 97-107 grams
  • Length: 35-36 cm
  • Habitat: Dry and open bushveld
  • Lay 2-4 eggs which are incubated by both parents for 18 days
  • Call: ghak ghak gharrack
  • Life expectancy: 10 years 


Want to read about more of the wonderful wildlife that lives in the South Luangwa National Park? Follow this link to read about our river dwellers.


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