Coracias – Old World rollers

One of the most vibrant and beautiful birds in existence

Old World rollers are medium-sized birds known for their striking coloration and acrobatic flight, predominantly found in Europe, Africa, and Asia. The genus Coracias is the most widely distributed of the rollers and includes several species that exhibit the family’s characteristic behaviors and vibrant plumage.

These rollers are robust and stocky birds with strong, slightly hooked beaks and a distinctive silhouette. They exhibit a range of brilliant colors, with various species displaying combinations of bright blues, purples, greens, and browns across their plumage. The richness of their coloration often becomes most pronounced during flight, when their broad wings and tail spread, revealing a magnificent spectrum of hues.

Coracias rollers are known for their ‘sit-and-wait’ hunting strategy, similar to that of kingfishers and bee-eaters to which they are related. They typically perch conspicuously on trees, posts, or other vantage points, keeping a lookout for prey. Once they spot a potential meal, they swoop down with precision, often catching their prey on the ground. Rollers are opportunistic feeders, and their diet includes a wide array of small vertebrates like frogs, lizards, rodents, and even small birds. They also consume various invertebrates, such as insects and worms, and have been known to tackle prey that other birds avoid, including snakes, hairy caterpillars, and scorpions.

Rollers have a unique way of handling their food; they will carry larger prey items back to their perch, where they beat them against the perch to kill and dismember them before eating. This behavior helps them to consume larger or more resilient prey items more easily.