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Animals & Attractions

Lilac Breasted Roller

We currently have one female lilac-breasted roller.  She hatched in October 2003 and arrived here from Parc Paradiso, Belgium in December 2004. 

Location in the Zoo

Our lilac-breasted roller can been seen in our Brilliant Birds exhibit.

In the Wild

The lilac-breasted roller (Coracias caudata) is found in East Africa, Ethiopia and Somalia, living in savannas, open brush and woodlands. It is a very vibrant bird, with multiple colours on its body.  The head is green, the chin is white and the breast is lilac.  Its back is brown while the outer tail feathers are black.  The roller's underparts are greenish-blue with violet outer flight feathers, and their legs are greenish yellow.

Rollers get their name from their acrobatic courtship flight: a fast, shallow dive from great height with a rolling or fast rocking motion, accompanied by loud calls.  Lilac-breasted rollers are either solitary or live in pairs; they are very territorial and will defend feeding grounds and nest holes from intruders.

This species has a mixed diet consisting of amphibians, ants, beetles, caterpillars, crabs, insects and small birds.  They perch on trees, bushes or fence posts looking for prey before swooping down to the ground.  They either eat the meal on the ground or return to their perch.  Rollers are aggressive and batter their prey before swallowing it whole.  They also take advantage of bush fires by feeding on prey fleeing danger.

Nests are either made in tree holes or in woodpeckers' or kingfishers' nest holes that the roller has taken over.  The female lays two to four eggs, which are incubated by both parents.  Nineteen days after hatching the chicks are fully feathered.

Find out more


Not Endangered NE
Data Deficient DD
Least Concern LC
Near Threatened NT
Vulnerable VU
Endangered EN
Critically Endangered CR
Extinct in the wild EW
Extinct EX

Least Concern

For more info on classifications visit


Relative to a smartphone Relative to a smartphone


Population is stable, IUCN May 2012


  • Woodland



Insectivore Insectivore
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