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Lilac-breasted Roller

Lilac-breasted Roller
Photo Information
Copyright: Anna Eksteen (Miss_Piggy) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2285 W: 5 N: 5300] (18714)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2009-10-05
Categories: Birds
Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC H9, Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 15x Optical zoom, Digital ISO 160
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/640 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Travelogue: Kruger NP 2009
Theme(s): Roller, A painter's dream, Kruger National Park 3 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2010-01-20 9:50
Viewed: 14946
Favorites: 2 [view]
Points: 102
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Lilac-breasted Roller / Coracias caudatus

The Lilac-breasted Roller is the 5th in the series of the birds of the Kruger National Park, which I am currently sharing. Enjoy!

These birds have been featured many times on the site, but because it was the 1st time I was fortunate to photograph one of them, it is rather special to me. In my personal opinion it is one of the most gorgeous birds found in the park due to the variety of colours in its plumage. BUT if one had to describe the sound it makes, one would never believe that the hoarse sound comes from the mouth of such a lovely bird. Unbelievable, but true.

I want to share a personal experience I had many years ago about this bird. It was the first time I ever visited a game park and I did was not aware of the existence of this multi-coloured bird at all. We were driving through the park and the next moment the biggest, prettiest, most colourful butterfly flew past the car and I shouted out in excitement: "Look at that beautiful, big butterfly!" Needles to say, the joke was on me and I was told that it actually is a Lilac-breasted Roller. Even until today, whenever we are in the game park and we see a Lilac-breasted Roller, Loot would jokingly say "Look at Anna's butterfly". They are really very eye-catching, especially in flight, and I was thrilled to photograph it for the 1st time. We saw quite a number of them in the time we toured the park. This specific one is rather special to me, as it was my 1st as mentioned and the early morning light made the unique colours stand out against the clear blue sky. This image was taken in the Crocodile Bridge area.

The Lilac-breasted Roller belongs to the family of birds classified as Coraciidae. According to the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology it is also known by these other names: Moselikatse's Roller or Fork-tailed Roller. The Lilac-breasted Roller is neither endemic or near endemic to the Kruger National Park. It is however a common resident. The height of this bird is about 28cm and its weight is about 105 grams. The male and female have the same plumage and colours. The washed green head is large, the neck is short, the greenish yellow legs are rather short and the feet are small. The beak is strong, arched and hooked-tipped. The tail is narrow and of medium length. The back and scapulars are brown. The shoulder of the wing, outer webs of the flight feathers and the rump are all violet. The bases of the primaries and their coverts are pale greenish blue and the outer tail feathers are elongated and blackish. The chin is whitish, shading to rich lilac of the breast. The under parts are greenish blue. The bill is black and the eyes are brown. It has large wings and is strong in flight. You may see these birds only in certain parts of the Park.

Feeding Habits
The Lilac-breasted Roller will perch on a dead tree, surveying the area for prey. One typical aspect of its behavior is that it also preys on animals fleeing from bush fires. To feed they swoop down from an elevated perch next to their prey and eat it on the ground or return to a perch where they batter it before swallowing it whole. They feed on small insects, grasshoppers, beetles, occasionally lizards, crabs, and small amphibians.

Breeding Habitat and Nesting Habits
They get their name from their impressive courtship flight, a fast, shallow dive from considerable elevation with a rolling or fast rocking motion, accompanied by loud raucous calls, especially during breeding season. They actually breed 'on the wing'. They make unlined nests in natural tree holes or in termite hills. Sometimes they take over woodpecker's or kingfisher's nest holes. They lay 2-4 white eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for 22-24 days. At 19 days the chicks are fully feathered and greyish brown. The preferred habitats for them are: woodlands and arid areas including grasslands. They do not associate with human habitation. You will not see them in flocks, as they prefer to act singly or in pairs.

Names of this avian species in other languages
Afrikaans ... Gewone Troupant
Zulu ... iFefe
German ... Gabelracke
Portuguese ... Rolieiro-de-peito-lils
French ... Rollier longs brins
Dutch ... Vorkstaartscharrelaar


I hope you enjoyed looking at this photo as much as I took pleasure in taking it.

KOMSIS, sranjan, roges, PeterZ, zulfu, Ishi, goatman04, Jamesp, siggi, JoseMiguel, jaycee, tuslaw, Dis. Ac., eng55, boreocypriensis, uleko, pilonm, xTauruSx, jeanpaul, Noisette, Mamagolo2, maurydv, CeltickRanger, Luis52, albert, anemone, lovenature, alikox has marked this note useful
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To Luis52: Hola LuisMiss_Piggy 1 01-23 20:21
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • KOMSIS Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 820 W: 0 N: 2419] (10674)
  • [2010-01-20 9:52]

Hi Anna,
Fantastic colors, a lovely bird ...
Light use, vibrant color and sharp detail is excellent.
Best wishes,

Hello Anna,
Perfect shot with great details, lighting & POV. TFS

  • Great 
  • alin-m Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 472 W: 1 N: 126] (1773)
  • [2010-01-20 10:00]

Hello Anna.
Again you find another bird with some beautiful colors and interesting aspect and again you have photographed it so well.Can I call it,the multicolored bird.
Best greetings.Alin.

Hey Anna,
Nice shot of this little guy. Although the crop is quite obvious, I think you did the best you could with your camera and the colors are just wild:)
Thanks for the very interesting note,

  • Great 
  • roges Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 957 W: 0 N: 1329] (6264)
  • [2010-01-20 10:20]

Hi Anna,
Splendid macro.
Excellent framing and playing the small but magnificently colored birds.
With a feather in some beautiful colors and a top player ... simple, we offer a great achievement, congratulations.
The friendly Greetings from Germany,

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2010-01-20 11:09]

Hello Anna,
Very beautiful photo of my favorite African bird the Vorkstaartscharrelaar. The colours in the sunshine are amazing, specially in flight.
Excellent photo in a lovely pose with eye contact. Great POV, sharpness and BG.

hello Anna
super sharpness picture,with great details and nice soft BG.
beautiful colours have this bird
a Beauty
greeting lou

  • Great 
  • zulfu Gold Star Critiquer [C: 685 W: 0 N: 2] (43)
  • [2010-01-20 11:41]

Hello Anna, superb shot of this beauty with excellent composition, details and colours.
TFS and G's,

  • Great 
  • Ishi Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 298 W: 21 N: 1943] (13387)
  • [2010-01-20 11:54]

Shalom Anna,

Amazing array of colors on one bird. Lovely!



  • Great 
  • Heaven Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 996 W: 123 N: 2341] (7912)
  • [2010-01-20 12:12]

Hi Anna!

I didn't know that in your country it's already time for carnaval, and I also didn't know that the animals take part in that event, too...


Well, this cute fellow is so colourful, so full of joy! I like the simplicity of the picture because it just shows what is important: a beautiful bird that is proud of its coloured feathers. And I wonder if this bird isn't just gloating over its feathers because it wants to be sure not to be taken as a... butterfly!

Kind regards


Hi Anna,

This is a great capture of a Lilac-breasted Roller with such beautiful colors, pose & POV. Very nicely taken, composed & presented. TFS & the interesting notes.

Best wishes


  • Great 
  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2010-01-20 12:56]

Hi Anna

Lovely story - I remember the first time I saw one in Kenya. Great pose and detail.



  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2010-01-20 13:37]

what a beauty Anna,
very good photo, fantastic in pov, good details in the shot, very good colours, very good job I like it a lot,
Best regards Siggi

Hi Anna,
It seems like a painter's colour palette!
Pretty amazing bird, it's like a dream for a colour lover like me.
So good you were able to get very close and have such good lighting.
Great photo and thank you very much to share it,

Hi Anna.
Fabulous shiny colors make more attractive this cute bird.. Excellent catch with very nice pose...TFS.
Best wishes, take care.

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2010-01-20 15:25]

Hi Anna,

Lucky you to be able to get this wonderful shot of this many colored bird. The colors are exquisite and the details of the face and feathers are excellent. I am surprised to hear he doesn't have a melodious song. I love the pose and composition.


  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2010-01-20 18:54]

Hi Anna,
The Lilac-breasted Roller is one of those creatures that seems unreal.
Its beauty is a testament to the Creator's artistry and fancy. : )
You captured this bird in all its glory.
The palette of colors is amazing, so vivid and rich.
The fluffed-up feathers provide texture.
A regal pose, an intense stare, a clean BG.
Can't ask for much more.
TFS this beauty!

  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2010-01-20 20:25]

Hello Anna,
It's amazing how one little bird could display such an array of colors. I see it even has some vivid blue on it just like Loots monkey..LOL..sorry, but I just got done viewing his latest post and couldn't help myself.
Seriously though...this is a superb shot showing us the wonderful detail in this gorgeous birds plumage. I can't fathom the excitement you must have felt of actually being able to see such a beautiful bird in the wild, let alone being able to get a wonderful shot of it with a camera.
The more I view yours and Loot's photos, the more I want to take a trip to Africa and visit Kruger National Park. Can't wait to see more!! TFS.

Hi Anna,
This is a wonderful shot of the Roller,sitting so cooperatively in that tree for you.
The colours are so intense it almost seems as though the cameras sensors have trouble handling them.It almost seems to blow them out and make them seem more saturated,distorting the edges .... not your fault. Just the way the camera interprets I think.
It almost has the look of a painting.
Nice work.

Hello anna,

an vey good image from this beautiful coloured bird with good pov and bg.
Fine colours.


  • Great 
  • eng55 Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1256 W: 42 N: 1976] (5892)
  • [2010-01-20 23:38]

Hi Anna,
What a nice and colourful bird.Well caught,framed and composed.I liked simple BG,clarity,details and catchlight in eyes a lot.Excellent work!
Thanks for posting..

Ciao Anna, lovely bird with fantastic colors, nice pose against beautiful blue sky, great capture with fine details, perfect focus and splendid sharpness, very well done, ciao Silvio

Hi Anna,

Amazingly beautiful shot of this pretty Lilac-breasted Roller,
the focus looks superb. The posture is incredible too.
Very effective use of the DOF. The beauty looks well placed too.
Great spotting, but more importantly, great shooting.
TFS and heve a nice day MF!


  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2010-01-21 1:49]

Hello Anna,
I've seen a few species of Roller but this one is certainly the most striking in its bright colours! A wonderful view of it here showing it in profile and in beautiful light. We had a European Roller that went astray to Sweden some years back. This was a big sensation and attracted masses of birdwatchers causing traffic problems! Well, as you say they certainly are very precious birds!
Many thanks and best wishes, Ulla

Hallo Anna,

Wat ‘n fantastiese skoot. Ek he teen wat feitlik presies dieelfde is, die troupant kyk egter net na die ander kant toe. Baie mooi raakgesien, tegnies baie mooi en goed verwerk. Groete aan Loot, en geluk met die kompetisie wat jy gewen het.


  • Great 
  • cloud Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 497 W: 111 N: 1535] (9539)
  • [2010-01-21 2:08]

Hello Anna,
What a the colourful species. Colours in bright light are so alive. In my country we haven't birds with so gaudy plumage.
Regards, Pawel

Hi Anna

A stunning shot from your Sony, a great collection of colours. Great composition and background too.


  • Great 
  • efsus Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 415 W: 11 N: 843] (3947)
  • [2010-01-21 3:30]

Merhaba Anna
Bu güzel kuşun enfes bir karesini paylaşmışsınız. Renkleri ve detayları kusursuz görünüyor. Artalanda masmavi gökyüzü ve göz teması fotoğrafa oldukça değer katmış. Diğer çalışmalarınızda olduğu gibi bu foto da çok başarılı. Yeni fotolarda görüşmek dileği ile.. hoşçakal.


  • Great 
  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2010-01-21 4:38]

Hi Anna,
I just cannot imagine of this bird in so many colur combinations. Very very special indeed. The colours are bright and very special. I would say it never crosses my mind to have seen such a wonderful bright colours outfit.
Really beautiful and you captured it very well to allow us to appreciate the Kruger Park beauty.ve bird and impressive photography from you.

Congratulations and such an impressi

I am impressed! You have managed to capture the colours perfectly! I been fortunate to photograph many of these pretty birds as they sit perched alongside the road surveying their territory, but this is the best I have seen so far. A slight distraction is the top of the branch by the tail, but that is a minor detail. Well done

Hello Anna!

Wow! What a fantastic and colorful butterfly!!! :)))

Seriously, I understand that you were confused with that so lovely bird! Colors are gorgious and delightful. You took a very good POV in order to take this shot. I don't know if you have Photoshop, but personnally I would have removed the branch within the tail. The blue and nice sky compliments very well the bird.

Thank you very much for presenting us that beauty!!!



  • Great 
  • zetu Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 967 W: 26 N: 3888] (16941)
  • [2010-01-21 7:50]

Hello Anna
Wow! This is a real beauty. Wonderful bird with vivid colors and you capture it very well
Thanks for sharing

Otro buen trabajo Anna. Es sorprendente la belleza de los animales de tu zona, bien sean aves, mamíferos...
Una toma de gran naturalidad, sobre todo por como captaste la pose del ave. Los colores impresionantes por su variedad y tono.
Un abrazo: Josep Ignasi.

Hello Anna, superb close-up of this cute bird from nice point of view and details.
TFS and regards,

Hi Anna

Superbe oiseau et superbe couleurs. Bravo pour les détails et l,exposition.Il est de toute beauté cet oiseau...
Bravo et merci...JP

Hello Anna
superbe capture of this very colorful bird, his fine pose shows all the nice details on his splendid plumage,
the blue sky makes a wonderful BG
Have a good night

Hi Anna,
I really do like your "butterfly" and I will never be able to look at this bird in the future without a smile on my face and thinking of you. I think this is a stunning image and I love the colors. Your photo has great detail and stands out against the back ground. Very well done and thanks for sharing.

Hello Anna,
so many different colours on a single tiny bird, that's wonderful and it must be amazing to see this one in nature. Your shot is beautiful and I like it very much. When I look outside my window I also have beautiful birds there - but the light is bad, there's no sunshine and it is very cold.
Thanks and enjoy the weekend
Sabine - wishnugaruda

Hello Anna,
a fantastic capture of the Lilac-breasted Roller taken from an excellent POV showing very well the marvellous colourful plumage, good sharpness, a very pleasant composition with a lovely pose of this splendid bird.
Best regards

hello Anna

excellent close-up photo of this colourful beautiful bird,
fine POV and framing, fine focus sharpness and details,
he has a beautiful glance, the catch-light render the photo more beautiful,



  • Great 
  • Luis52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1175 W: 8 N: 4240] (15809)
  • [2010-01-23 19:35]
  • [+]

Hola Anna.
Excellent photo. Beautiful colors on this lovely bird. You did a great work here, and Your note is also interesting to read.
Every time I take a photo of a beautiful bird like this I start shaking. Do You do to?

Hello Anna,
Superb pose of this colourful butterfly !
Great light giving stunning saturated colours
Well done and TFS this beauty

Hi Anna.
Excellent capture of this wonderful bird. colours, details and POV are great..
thanks for sharing
Best regards

Hello Anna
A lovely and capture of this colourful Lilac-breasted Roller. He looks like a rainbow with wings. Beautiful!
TFS Janice

Hi Anna,
Probably one of the most beautiful birds on this planet. The patchwork of colors is amazing. The side profile of this bird has been captured wonderfully and show this bird off best. This is one species I would love to photograph. Well done.
Paul :)

Superb capture of this great bird.This bird have good colors.

WOW, and double WOW. This is such a great capture with brillant colors and clarity.

  • Great 
  • Helio Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 44 W: 0 N: 16] (533)
  • [2010-07-10 15:24]

Hello Anna, great picture. Wonderful colors never seen it before. Congratulations!

Hi Anna,

This is a wonderfully colored bird and the uniform pale background helps to emphasize its colors. Nice sharpness. Thanks. Ali.

Hi anna,

1st i would like to thanks for sharing this beauty.
The rainbow colors of this bird are beautiful. Well done.


Wow! Anna. A very striking side profile. That's the best. For using a Sony H9 you must have gotten fairly close. I can't find anything wrong with this shot. Beautiful in every way. Love the colours. TFS Trevor

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