Harriet Smith Photography


"For The Love of Africa"

AFRICAN SAFARIS - Trips Of A Lifetime

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The spectacular Lilac Breasted Roller is about 15 inches. The washed green head is large, the neck is short, the greenish yellow legs are rather short  with small feet. The back and scapulars are brown. The shoulder of the wing, outer webs of the flight feathers and the rump are all violet. The large wings are brilliant shades of blue with tips of black. The chin is whitish, shading to rich lilac of the breast, continuing into greenish blue. The bill is black. The beak is strong, arched and hooked-tipped.

Rollers get their name from their impressive courtship flight, a fast, shallow dive from considerable elevation with a rolling or fast rocking motion, accompanied by loud raucous calls.  All rollers appear to be monogamous and highly territorial, defending small feeding territories.   They live in pairs or small groups, but are often seen alone.  Their call is a loud harsh squawk, 'zaaak'.

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The Lilac Breasted Rollers ranges more or less continuously throughout eastern and southern Africa.   They inhabit acacia country with well spaced trees, rolling bushy game lands, riverside areas and cultivated land, but they stay away from  human habitation. The Lilac Breasted Roller feeds on grasshoppers, beetles, occasionally lizards, crabs, and small amphibians. They will perch on a dead tree, surveying the area for prey. They swoop down from their perch to capture their prey and eat it on the ground or return to a perch where they batter it before swallowing it whole. The Lilac Breasted Roller will follow the lead edge of a brush fire and prey on animals escaping the fire.

The Lilac Breasted Roller makes unlined nests in natural tree holes or in termite mounds. Sometimes they take over woodpecker's or kingfisher's nest holes.
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