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Lilac Breasted Rollers

The photograph (above left) clearly shows where this exquisite bird gets it’s name from as one can see the lilac colour of the breast above the sky blue colour of the belly. The lilac breasted roller (Coracias caudata) is a common and widespread resident species – especially in the upper half of the Kruger National Park and adjacent areas. It is distinguished from the similar racket-tailed roller by its lilac breast and lack of prominent tail tips. It carries out the most impressive aerial displays during the breeding season, which runs September through to December. It begins by emitting a rasping “Kwsh, kwsh” call as it flies into the wind, gaining height. This call is no doubt to attract the attention of the female. Once having gained sufficient height the bird then begins a sequence of eye catching aerial manoeuvres of loops, and rolls which terminate in a fast, low level fly past of side to side waggling before alighting into the high branches of a convenient tree. These birds feed on insects, scorpions, centipedes, lizards, small snakes, small birds and rodents and will often be seen feeding on the ground. They are often attracted to veld fires where there is an abundance of insects.