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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

European Roller

Afrikaans name: Europese Troupant

A European Roller on a typically exposed perch

European Roller

Photo © Steven Herbert

Coracias garrulus

European Roller behaviour

These birds arrive in South Africa in large numbers around December each year. In suitable habitat, such as found in much of Kruger National Park, they are quite common before they leave after a few months. They are normally seen sitting on an exposed perch looking for prey on the ground. They are normally silent when visiting our country but may give off an alarm call if disturbed.

European Roller appearance

Male and female have similar plumage. The plumage of juveniles is much drabber. The European Roller is not as stunning to see as the more common Lilac-breasted Roller, but they are still attractive birds. They are biggish birds with a length of around 30 cm and a wingspan of 55 cm.

European Roller diet

Their food consists of insects, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians. They hunt from an exposed perch and swoop to the ground to catch prey and then fly to another perch to eat.

European Roller breeding

These rollers do not breed in South or southern Africa. The arrive here in the southern hemisphere summer which is their non-breeding season. They breed in a number of northern hemisphere countries such as Russia, Portugal, Spain and Poland. Interestingly, none of the other rollers breed in Europe.

European Roller distribution and habitat

It is normally found in open woodland or savanna. They have a wide distribution across southern Europe, the Middle East and central Asia in the northern hemisphere summer after which they migrate to much of sub-Saharan Africa.


References and further reading

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Year Published: 1975 - Page: 101

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 95

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Year Published: 1999 - Page: 39

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 128

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 388

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1993 - Page: 384

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 264

Wild Issue 40 - Author: - Year Published: 2017 - Page: 68

List of South African Birds

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