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Racquet-tailed Roller

Coracias spatulata


Coraciidae, theroller family

Conservation Status:

Least Concern IUCN.


Southern Africa.


Dry open woodland.


Rollers get their name from their acrobatic flight, often rolling over and somersaulting in midair during courtship and territorial disputes.

They are stocky birds. Males and females have the same plumage and colors – bright blue under-parts and wings, brown caps and backs, with spatulate tips on long outer tail feathers.

Their diet consists of insects such as flying ants, termites, grasshoppers, crickets, centipedes and scorpions and they regurgitate pellets of chitin (insect parts) and bone. They feed both on the ground and on the wing. They are predated on by any bird of prey that is larger than they are.

They are usually observed perching at vantage points just below the tree canopy and are generally found singly or in pairs. They are monogamous, but in the event of a partner dying, they will seek out a new mate. Nests are built in a hole in a tree trunk where females usually lay three eggs and may produce two clutches in a year, depending on the food supply. Their lifespan is approximately 20 to 25 years.


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