Select Page

European Roller

European Roller

European rollers are medium-sized birds known for their aerial acrobatics during courtship or territorial flights. They have brightly coloured plumage and a hooked bill. European rollers are striking in their strong direct flight, with the brilliant blue contrasting with black flight feathers. Males and females are similar, but the juvenile is a drabber version of the adult.

European rollers breed in Europe. Their overall range extends into the Middle East, Central Asia, and Morocco. These birds are long-distance migrants, wintering in Africa south of the Sahara in two distinct regions, from Senegal east to Cameroon and from Ethiopia west to Congo and south to South Africa. Some populations migrate to Africa through India. European rollers are birds of warm, dry, open country with scattered trees, preferring lowlands. Oak and pine woodlands with open areas are prime breeding habitat, but farms, orchards, and similar areas with mixed vegetation are also used. In Africa, they occur in a wide range of dry, open land with trees. Rollers winter primarily in dry, wooded savanna and bushy plains.

European rollers are generally solitary birds. They hunt by day in a sit-and-wait manner. They often perch prominently on trees, posts or overhead wires, whilst watching for the potential prey that they eat. The call of these birds is a harsh crow-like sound and they give a raucous series of calls when nervous.

European rollers are carnivores. Their diet includes large insects, small reptiles, rodents, and even frogs. The nestlings mostly eat grasshoppers and bush crickets.