Blue-Bellied Roller

ORDER: Coraciiformes

FAMILY: Coraciidae

GENUS: Coracias

SPECIES: cyanogaster

Head to upper mantle and chest apricot glossed with pinkish and greenish; mantle and scapulars brownish black glossed with green; wings, rump and breast to undertail coverts dark blue; basal half of flight feathers, underwing coverts, tail pale blue; outer tail feathers elongated. Sexes are alike.

Senegal and Gambia to the Sudan. A savanna species often found in forest glades as well as more open country.

Carnivorous. Insects, lizards. Will come a long distance to grass fires for scorched insects.

They are conspicuous and usually noisy birds. They frequent the topmost branches of tall trees from which they indulge in wild erratic flights, accompanied by loud cries and attack any large bird that passes. Others perch on dead branches on low trees from which they swoop down on their prey. Very keen eyesight and are among the first birds to come to a grassfire, termite hatch or locust swarm. Usually seen in pairs, they nest in holes in trees and lay two or three white eggs. Incubation lasts about three weeks and the young are fledged in about four weeks.

They have a strong body and a crow-like beak widened at the base. They have short legs and weak feet and rarely walk or hop. The three anterior toes are joined along their basal segments. They are good flyers with long wings.

Courtship involves 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. They are territorial and reversed copulations have been witnessed which seem to be dominance displays.

The Blue-bellied Rollers can be found in the African Savanna aviary near the lions.

Fairly abundant. They have adapted to live near humans where there is cleared ground. They are listed as Least Concern by the IUCN, but with a population trend of decreasing.


  1. Fry, C. Hilary and Kathie Fry. 1992. Kingfishers, Bee-eaters and Rollers: A Handbook. Princeton University Press.
  2. Mackworth-Praed, C.W. and C.H.B. Grant. 1957. Birds of Eastern and North Eastern Africa. Vol, 1. London. Longmans Green & Co.
  3. Moynihan, M. 1990. "Social, sexual and pseudosexual behavior of the Blue-bellied Roller, Coracias cynogaster: the consequences of crowding or concentration" Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, 491:1-23.