A Bird of Many Colours
With around eight colours dressing the lilac breasted roller, it is no wonder that this pretty little bird is also referred to as the rainbow roller. Picture this—olive from the crown to the mantle, light lilac to a darker shade from the throat to the breast, the cheeks and ear converting into a lilac-rufous, with long, black outermost tail streamers. Darting across most of the sky in sub-Saharan Africa, safari-goers to the continent are delighted when they spot this gem up above.
As per usual, here are our #FridayFacts about the vibrant lilac breasted roller bird:
More Facts About the Lilac Breasted Roller Bird
1. Only two of their toes are webbed
The lilac-breasted roller, like other members of the family, has syndactyl feet with the second and third toes fused.
2. It has a large wingspan
Even though it’s a relatively small bird, weighing just over 100 grams and about 36 centimetres in length, its wingspan reaches almost 60 centimetres.
3. They are dedicated parents
The female lays between two and four eggs in a natural hole in a tree. The male assists with the incubation and both parents will defend the nest aggressively.
4. Male rollers can be dramatic during breeding season
The male puts up an elaborate display during the breeding season, raising more than a metre and a half in the air, before swooping and diving down while uttering harsh cries.
5. Lilac breasted rollers are family-orientated
Lilac breasted rollers are believed to be monogamous and mate for life, and in winter, they even stay together in small family groups.
6. A bird of kings
The lilac breasted roller bird is known as the Mzilikiazi’s roller in Zimbabwe. This is after the 19th century Matabele king who liked to use the bird’s feathers in his headdresses.
7. They are hunted by birds of prey
Birds of prey, like the Wahlberg’s eagle, bateleur and the peregrine falcon, are the main predators of the lilac breasted roller.
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