Rollers
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Broad-billed Roller L: 30 cm (12") A medium-sized, dark, rufous-cinnamon bird with a short, broad and chunky yellow bill . In flight it is shaped much like a small, thickset falcon, but has deep wing beats and an undulating flight action . It is an uncommon spring and summer visitor (September–April) to Kruger, particularly north of Shingwedzi, where it breeds in riverine forest and lush savannah . The calls are scratchy “grrrrrr” and “k-weeek, k-weeek” notes, higher pitched, less varied, and less harsh than those of other rollers . Compared to other rollers (pages 100–101) this species tends to forage higher in the air, and also perches higher, often on bare snags in and above the canopy . BIRDS OF BROADLEAVED WOODLAND AND CAMPS 99 Lilac-breasted Roller L: 36 cm (14") An eyecatching, chunky, large-headed bird with a pastel lilac breast, rosy cheeks and a pale green crown . Although it has a longer tail than the European Roller, and appears slimmer, the breast colour is the most striking difference . The Lilac-breasted Roller is a common resident throughout Kruger, selecting conspicuous perches from which to search for prey, mostly insects and small vertebrates . It is usually silent, but sometimes calls a loud, guttural “gwhaaak, gwhaaak” . This species has an amazing display flight that includes the side-to-side rolling that gives this group of birds their name . In flight, it shows four electric shades of blue in the wings and in good light is certainly breathtaking; this is the bird that most frequently gets dedicated mammal-watchers and photographers into birding! Rollers: 2 purple roller european roller lilac-breasted roller underwing upperwing 100 European Roller L: 30 cm (12") This powerful, bulky roller is mostly a pale greenish sky-blue, with a brown back, and has a short, square tail lacking a central spike . In flight, it shows striking ultramarine underwings and shoulder patches . It is an abundant non-breeding summer visitor (November–March), when it is the most common roller in Kruger, often being seen perched up on snags watching for large insect prey . Although birds can give a harsh croak, this roller is mostly silent in South Africa . Purple Roller L: 35–40 cm (14–16") The bulkiest and dullest of the rollers, with primarily purple-cinnamon hues flecked with many fine white streaks and a bold white eyebrow . In flight, however, it shows purple-blue on the wings, tail and vent . The bill is dark, separating it from the smaller and scarcer Broad-billed Roller (page 99) . The Purple Roller is an uncommon resident in Kruger, generally preferring drier woodland compared with other rollers . Aerial displays include side-to-side rolling while giving loud, guttural “ghaaaa” calls . NT with many fine white streaks and BIRDS OF BROADLEAVED WOODLAND AND CAMPS 101 ...