Purple Roller

Information about the Bird Purple Roller

The purple roller (Coracias naevius), also called the rufous-crowned roller, is found over sub-Saharan Africa to as far south as Namibia and the Transvaal. Compared with other rollers its colours are rather dull and its voice rather harsh and grating.

The purple roller is the largest of the rollers, growing to a length of 35 to 40cm (14 to 16in). From a distance it appears a dull brownish bird with a white stripe over the eye, a patch of white on the nape and a dark tail. Northern populations tend to have a rufus crown while southern populations have a more olive-green crown. The underparts are purplish-pink streaked with white. The wings are long and rounded while the tail is square-cut. The voice is a rather grating "ka" or "gaa", repeated rapidly and evenly.
Its preferred habitat is dry thornveld where it spends long periods perched at the top of thorn trees or poles, watching for food items such as insects, spiders, scorpions and small lizards on the ground. It rocks to-and-fro about its longitudinal axis during display flights, calling raucously all the while; starting from above the treetops it plummets towards the ground in rolling flight. It is territorial, and during the breeding season will drive off other rollers, small hawks and crows.
This species seems to be an opportunist breeder, possibly linked to rains, as its breeding season varies from place to place. It nests in natural hollows in trees or uses old woodpecker holes, or in cliffs, riverbanks, pipes or holes in masonry, usually laying three white eggs. The young are fed and incubated by both parents.

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