Few people would fail to be impressed by the beautiful plumage of the Lilac-breasted Roller, especially when seeing those electric colours swooping past in flight!
Lilac-breasted Rollers are inhabitants of the more open woodlands and savannas, often perching quite conspicuously on trees or poles, either singly or in pairs. They are mostly insectivorous in diet, though they will also take small reptiles, frogs, small birds and rodents when the opportunity arises. They’re often seen at veldfires, hawking the small prey items trying to escape the flames. They are acrobatic fliers, hence the name.
Pairs are monogamous and strictly territorial. In South Africa, this species breeds mostly in spring, nesting in abandoned holes made by other birds and animals in trees. Clutches contain 2-4 eggs and are incubated by both parents for just over three weeks.
These colourful birds are common residents of Eastern and Southern Africa, and considered of “least concern” by the IUCN. In South Africa they can be found from Northern Kwazulu-Natal through Mpumalanga, Limpopo Province, the North of Gauteng and North-West Province to the Kalahari regions of the Northern Cape.