Coraciiformes Taxon Advisory Group -
Blue-bellied Roller (Coracias cyanogaster)
SSP Manager: Tim Snyder - Brookfield Zoo
Rollers are conspicuous, noisy birds named after their elaborate courtship and territorial flight displays. They are often observed perched in the upper canopy of trees from which they begin their acrobatic rolling flight displays.
The blue-bellied roller is a small, stocky bird with a large head, heavy beak, and short legs with weak feet. The head to the upper mantle and chest are apricot in color and glossed with pinkish and greenish tones. The mantle and scapulars are brownish black glossed with green. The wings, rump, and breast extending down to the lower tail coverts are dark blue. The basal half of the flight feathers, under wing coverts, and tail are pale blue. The outer tail feathers are elongated. The sexes are alike.
Blue-bellied Rollers are still fairly common within their range and are classified as a species of Least Concern (IUCN 3.1). They have adjusted well to human intrusion into their environment and should continue to remain stable in the near future. There are concerns over the use of insecticides affecting their favored prey items and the loss of nest cavities due to rampant deforestation.
They are found along a narrow strip of western Africa from Senegal to Sudan. Their range includes Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan.
Blue-bellied Rollers are typically found in habitats ranging from grasslands, wooded savannahs, plantations, burnt-over clearings, and forest glades alongside marshes and streams.
Breeding usually occurs between the months of April and July, when pairs seek holes in trees to lay 2-3 white eggs. Both of the parents incubate the eggs for a period of 22 to 24 days, and the young are fledged in about four weeks. The courtship behavior includes fast chases on the wing with the following bird breaking away and rocketing earthwards, rolling from side to side and calling raucously all the while.
The Blue-bellied Roller consumes a wide variety of insects and vertebrates. Their prey items can include grasshoppers, locusts, beetles, termites, small lizards, small rodents, and small birds. They perch in the open on exposed branches waiting for prey items to pass by and then will sortie after flying prey or swoop down to the ground after terrestrial species. They use grassfires to opportunistically catch the prey items fleeing the flames.
Blue-bellied Roller Gallery
Blue-bellied Roller Bibliography