Identification of Roller

The Birder's Market | Resource | Birds of Britain and Europe ID Guide | Bee-eaters & Rollers  | (European) Roller Coracias garrulus |  Identification of Roller

Identification of Roller

From Wikipedia

The European roller (Coracias garrulus) is the only member of the roller family of birds to breed in Europe. Its overall range extends into the Middle East and Central Asia and Morocco.

There are two subspecies: the nominate garrulus, which breeds from in north Africa from Morocco east to Tunisia, southwest and south-central Europe and Asia Minor east through northwest Iran to southwest Siberia; and semenowi, which breeds in Iraq and Iran (except northwest) east to Kashmir and north to Turkmenistan, south Kazakhstan and northwest China (west Xinjiang). The European roller is a long-distance migrant, wintering in southern Africa in two distinct regions, from Senegal east to Cameroon and from Ethiopia west to Congo and south to South Africa.

It is a bird of warm, dry, open country with scattered trees, preferring lowland open countryside with patches of oak Quercus forest, mature pine Pinus woodland with heathery clearings, orchards, mixed farmland, river valleys, and plains with scattered thorny or leafy trees. It winters primarily in dry wooded savanna and bushy plains, where it typically nests in tree holes.

The rollers are medium-sized Old World birds of open woodland habitats. They have brightly coloured plumage and a hooked bill. Most are found south of the Sahara. The genus Coracias contains eight species of sit-and-wait hunters. The European roller is similar in appearance and behaviour to the Abyssinian roller, which appears to be its closest relative. These two birds and the lilac-breasted roller seem to share a common ancestry and could possibly be considered to form a subspecies.

The European roller was described by Linnaeus in his Systema naturae in 1758 under its current name. The genus name derives from Greek; korakias refers to a type of crow, perhaps the red-billed chough.The species garrulus is from Latin and means chattering or noisy. There are two recognised subspecies:

C. g. garrulus (Linnaeus, 1758): the nominate subspecies. Breeds in northwestern Africa, Europe and east through northernwestern Iran to southwestern Siberia.
C. g. semenowi (Loudon & Tschusi, 1902) Iraq and southern Iran east through Kashmir and southern Kazakhstan to Xinjiang in western China.
The European roller is a stocky bird, the size of a jackdaw at 29–32 cm in length with a 52–58 cm wingspan; it is mainly blue with an orange-brown back. Rollers often perch prominently on trees, posts or overhead wires, like giant shrikes, whilst watching for the large insects, small reptiles, rodents and frogs that they eat.

This species is striking in its strong direct flight, with the brilliant blue contrasting with black flight feathers. Sexes are similar, but the juvenile is a drabber version of the adult.

The display of this bird is a lapwing-like display, with the twists and turns that give this species its English name. It nests in an unlined tree or cliff hole, and lays up to six eggs.

The call is a harsh crow-like sound. It gives a raucous series of calls when nervous.

Some populations migrate to Africa through India. A collision with an aircraft over the Arabian Sea has been recorded

Identification PDF Click here to download European Roller ID Pdf (PDF file)

The Birder's Market | Resource | Birds of Britain and Europe ID Guide | Bee-eaters & Rollers  | (European) Roller Coracias garrulus |  Identification of Roller

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