European Roller (Coracias garrulus)

It is a migratory bird, summering in Europe and wintering in Africa. Striking and conspicuous with its light blue plumage, coppery back, and crow-resembling bill. Frequents open to semi-open countries, with sparse trees and woods. Often observed solitarily or a part of small flocks, feeding on larger insects or perching on wires, snags, or on the ground.

Read further to know more about the European Roller.

What is the European Roller?

European Roller(Coracias garrulus) is a bird species belonging to the family Coraciidae. It is the lone species from the rollers that breed in Europe, whose range stretches into Morocco, Middle East, and Central Asia. It is a long-distant migrant, wintering in southern Africa, preferring bushy plains and wooded savannas while avoiding treeless locations.

Its seven levels of classification are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Coraciiformes

Family: Coraciidae

Genus: Coracias

Species: C. garrulus

European Roller Physical Description

European Roller is a stubby bird, growing 11.4 to 12.6 inches, or 29 to 32 centimeters, weighing about 150 grams, with a wingspan of 20.4 to 22.8 inches or 52 to 58 centimeters. It has a mostly light blue plumage, except for its coppery to orange-brown back, and accentuated by black flight feathers. The crow-like bill has a steel-gray tone while irises are black. Legs and toes are dull brown. Both sexes look similar. Juveniles are a paler version of the adults.

Where can they be spotted?

European Rollers thrives in warmer open countryside regions, with sparse trees and patchy wooded areas. These birds breed in Europe, Morocco, Central Asia, and the Middle East, wintering in southern Africa. Their breeding habitat includes pine and oak woodlands trees close farmlands, orchards, and other locations with varying vegetations. In its wintering range, they prefer bushy plains, and dry wooded savannas with ample tree coverage, where they nest and roost in tree cavities.

Interesting Facts You Should Know About the European Roller

European Rollers mainly feeds on insects, such as beetles, grasshoppers, manties, moth, crickets, cicadas, and locusts. Other food items they consume include amphibians, lizards, snakes, small mammals, and birds. They are often observed perching on fences, power lines, or open branches while searching for their prey. Once they detect their victim, they swoop down to catch it and carry it back to the perch to dismember and eat their prey.

These birds are long-distant migrants, traveling great distances of more than 10,000 kilometers from Europe and Asia to their wintering range in sub-Saharan Africa. Their movement is a renowned extravaganza, with hundreds of thousands of individuals, traveling onto and from their summer and winter habitats.

Like its cousin, European Rollers perform aerobatic displays characterized by twists and turns, during territorial and courtship flights. Thus, their name. They are monogamous birds, and the pair will defend their territory from intruders. Nests are made on natural tree cavities and in houses, trees, cliffs, and riverbanks.

The egg-laying season occurs from May to June. The female European Roller will lay a clutch consisting of 4 to 5 eggs, which she will solely incubate for about 17-19 days. Broods will leave the nest 25 to 30 days after hatching but will rely on parents for food for another three weeks.

European Rollers’ population size is estimated to have decreased by 25% from 1990 to 2000. These birds can no longer be seen breeding in may parts of its European range, mainly due to deforestation, the use of pesticides, and hunting. The species was previously evaluated as Near Threatened (NT) but now appears to be recovering. Currently, they are classified as Least Concern (LC) under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.



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European Roller