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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

European Roller: 21 Facts You Won’t Believe!

European roller facts are amusing to read for kids as well as adults.

Do you like colorful birds? Then you will fall in love with birds like these lilac-breasted rollers or European rollers. The European roller, Coracias garrulus, is one of 12 species of rollers across the world. This species is known for its bright-colored feathers, its highly acrobatic flight styles, and its crow-like harsh calls. They are also known for their great eyesight which helps them with their prey sighting skills. They find prey simply by sitting on tree branches or wires for long durations. This bird is one of the long-distance migratory species that usually lives in different parts of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

These monogamous birds build their nests in the trees with holes or in cliff holes. The pair carries out a courtship ritual with an acrobatic flight full of twists and turns. Young chicks are quick learners and are known to leave their nest within a month. Read on to know more about the European roller.

For more interesting facts and knowledge about other animals check out these facts about the roller and the Indian roller from Kidadl.

European Roller Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a European roller?

European rollers are birds that belong to the Coraciidae family of animals.

What class of animal does a European roller belong to?

This Coracias garrulus bird of the Coracias genus belongs to the Aves class of animals.

How many European rollers are there in the world?

The population of Coracias garrulus birds is marked as Least Concern and hence they are not threatened according to the IUCN. Currently, there are around 200,000-600,000 European rollers across the world. Their population has a great habitat distribution in the regions of Europe, South Africa, central Asia, and the Middle East.

Where does a European roller live?

European rollers have a great range of breeds in Europe. Apart from regions in Europe, their overall range extends into the Middle East, including Oman, Turkey, Kuwait, and southern parts of Africa, west and central Asia, and Morocco.

What is a European roller's habitat?

European rollers are migratory birds and they are often observed migrating from wintering regions. They travel a long way from Europe into wintering grounds in South Africa, the Sahara, or the Middle East. They live primarily in dry wooded savanna habitats and in the bushy plains of these areas. During other seasons, Coracias garrulus birds like their habitat setting to be dry and warm. Hence, they are widely found in the woodlands and lowlands of Africa and Asia. They mainly breed in Europe and are usually seen in any country with scattered trees, open lands, and mixed vegetation.

Who does a European roller live with?

The Coracias garrulus is a solitary bird. They are seen observing their prey during the day by perching on trees and waiting for prey alone. A family (consisting of a breeding pair and their chicks) lives together for a brief span until the babies are independent.

How long does a European roller live?

The Coracias garrulus has a good life expectancy of between nine and 10 years.

How do they reproduce?

European rollers are monogamous in nature. These breeding birds are known to meet during May and June to mate. During this period the breeding pairs are known for their display of acrobatic courtship rituals. The breeding population is seen in flight together in their pairs, performing different twists and turns before mating. This display is the main reason for their name: roller birds.

The nests of this species are built in cliff or tree holes. After mating, the female lays a clutch of around two to six eggs in the nest. The eggs are laid by the female with a gap of two to three days. Once all the eggs are laid, the female incubates all of them together for half a month to 19 days. After hatching, the juvenile might be dependent on its parents for a whole month. The young chick leaves the nest after a span of three to four weeks.

What is their conservation status?

The population distribution of these birds is high across the southern part of the world, including in  Europe. This is why this species is not considered threatened. In fact, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the population of this Coracias garrulus bird is marked as Least Concern. Eagles and falcons are the main predators who eat European rollers.

European Roller Fun Facts

What does a European roller look like?

The European roller, Coracias garrulus, is a bright-colored medium-sized bird. A physical description of adult birds of this species shows many similarities between male and female birds. Both of them have a brilliant blue-colored plumage with a brown back and black flight feathers. A juvenile, on the other hand, has a different description as it usually has a light-colored plumage. Both young and adult birds have a dark hooked bill. The hooked bill helps them to catch their prey easily. They all have brown beady eyes and a good long wingspan.

European rollers have bright blue feathers with black flight feathers.

How cute are they?

Due to the bright display of their feathers and their acrobatic twists and turns, this species of rollers can surely be classified as cute.

How do they communicate?

This European roller bird species is known to communicate using crow-like harsh calls. They use their visual and tactile skills to spot their food while perching on wires or trees.  

How big is a European roller?

European rollers grow as big as 11–13 in (28-33 cm) with a wingspan of 20-23 in (50-58.4 cm). These birds are two to three times the size of the lesser goldfinch bird.

How fast can a European roller fly?

Even though the exact speed of this roller subspecies is not known, the European roller is considered a long-distance migratory bird, almost like sooty shearwaters. They are also known to take a quick and acrobatic flight when engaging with a mate.

How much does a European roller weigh?

This medium-sized bird has a weight range of 0.9-5.6 oz (25.5-159 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The European roller is a gender-neutral name used for both males and females.

What would you call a baby European roller?

A European roller baby is called a chick.

What do they eat?

This species is a carnivorous bird species. Their food usually includes a variety of insects along with small rodents and frogs. These birds are diurnal and sit for long durations on elevated wires and tree branches. While doing so, they observe their prey and attack when the time is right. They also eat grasshoppers, beetles, worms, locusts, and many other invertebrates.

Are they dangerous?

No, this subspecies of the Coracias genus is not dangerous to humans.

Would they make a good pet?

Just like the common roller, the European roller bird is not considered to make a good pet.

Did you know...

Coracias garrulus babies vomit on themselves to keep predators away. Their vomit is orange in color and it has a putrid smell. This practice also helps their parents to understand when their chick is in danger.

Where does European roller spend their winter?

The range of Coracias garrulus birds is migratory. They start their migration from European areas and take flight towards southern parts of Africa for the wintering period.

Is the European roller endemic?

No, this species is found in different parts of the world. They are seen in places with scattered trees and vast expanses of open lands in Europe as well as Africa and Asia. Hence, this species cannot be categorized as endemic.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our resplendent quetzal facts and cinnamon teal facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable European roller coloring pages.

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