Lilac-breasted Roller: A palette of talent

The lilac-breasted roller, Coracias caudata, is undeniably one of the most colourful birds in all of Africa, and with its remarkable array of vibrant plumage, you can see why. However, this bird is not only beautiful… like all rollers, the lilac-breasted roller also performs spectacular aerial mating displays.

With its myriad of vibrant plumage, the lilac-breasted roller is one of the most colourful birds in Africa.

With its myriad of vibrant plumage, the lilac-breasted roller is one of the most colourful birds in Africa.

Attempts to attract a mate via aerial acrobatics start off with the male flying high into the air and making a rasping squawk to attract the female’s attention. Once he has her attention, the male loops in a U-shape, repeatedly, climbing higher still. Once at his peak height, he will free fall backwards before stalling and doing an elaborate roll! It is this roll that classifies this bird into the Family Coracidae, also known as the rollers. The roll also exposes his outstanding blue wings, seen in the photo below.

While in flight, and especially during a roll, the bright blue plumage of the lilac-breasted roller becomes especially discernible.

While in flight, and especially during a roll, the bright blue plumage of the lilac-breasted roller becomes especially discernible.

I couldn’t find the video I saw a while ago, but the mating displays of these birds are very similar to the jet shows where pilots perform aerial ‘backflips’, barrel rolls, et cetera. Here’s an overly dramatic, amateur (non-professional) video of a roller pigeon’s aerial acrobatics. Note that true rollers do this a bit differently, and with more finesse:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydEYA9-lrvE

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed the post, feel free to like, share, and comment.
Next week will definitely be more exciting with a really cool video.

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