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Birdwatching in Africa - Rufous-crowned Roller, Coracias naevius or Purple Roller

The Purple Roller (Coracias naevius), or Rufous-crowned Roller, is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa. Compared with other rollers its colours are rather dull and its voice rather harsh and grating.

Range map from

Range map
Range map from - Ornithological Portal is one of those MUST visit pages if you're in to bird watching. You can find just about everything there

Taxonomy and systematics

Two subspecies are recognized:

• Lilac-throated roller (C. n. naevius) - Daudin, 1800: The common name for this subspecies is also used as an alternate name for the lilac-breasted roller. Found from Senegal and Gambia to Somalia and northern Tanzania

• C. n. mosambicus - Dresser, 1890: Originally described as a separate species. Found from Angola and southern Democratic Republic of Congo to Namibia northern South Africa

The purple roller is the largest of the rollers, growing to a length of 35 to 40 cm. 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.

Length: 40 cm
Weight: 135 - 163 g
Distinctive Feature

Similar Species

From opus at the forum for wild birds and birding.
Female / Male

From opus at the forum for wild birds and birding.

Listen to the Purple Roller

Remarks from the Recordist

2 birds in a tree inside the gate to Awash National Park

Behaviour and ecology
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.

Conservation status
Conservation status
Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2016: e.T22682892A92967155. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22682892A92967155.en.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sighted: 21 October 2019 (Date of first photo that I could use)
Location: Awash National Park, Ethiopia

Rufous-crowned Roller, Coracias naevius or Purple Roller
Purple Roller or Rufous-crowned Roller

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