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the web of life in southern Africa

Coracias garrulus (European roller) 

Europese troupant [Afrikaans]; iFefe (also applied to Lilac-breasted roller) [Zulu]; Letlereretlere-petaputsoa [South Sotho]; Gatawa (generic name for roller) [Shona]; Vhevhe (generic term for roller) [Tsonga]; LetlÍrÍtlÍrÍ, LetlhakÍla [Tswana]; Scharrelaar [Dutch]; Rollier d'Europe [French]; Blauracke [German]; Rolieiro-europeu [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Coraciiformes > Family: Coraciidae

Coracias garrulus (European roller)  Coracias garrulus (European roller) 
European roller, Worcester, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©] European roller. [photo Callie de Wet ©]
Coracias garrulus (European roller) 

European roller holding grasshopper. [photo Callie de Wet ©]

The European roller a non-breeding visitor, with breeding grounds in Morocco, Spain, Poland, Siberia and India, with its non-breeding range entirely in sub-Saharan Africa. In southern Africa, it has a scattered distribution range, preferring savanna, such as broad-leaved and Acacia woodland. It eats mainly flying insects, such as termite alates, beetles, and locusts, rarely eating small vertebrates. It hunts from perches, waiting until prey gets close, before pouncing on it.

Distribution and habitat

Breeds in Morocco, Spain, Poland, Siberia and India, heading south to sub-Saharan Africa in the non-breeding season. In southern Africa it is locally common in northern and central Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and north-eastern and central South Africa. It generally prefers savanna, such as broad-leaved and Acacia woodland.

Distribution of European roller in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  


Mainly eats flying insects, such as termite alates, beetles and locusts, rarely eating small vertebrates. It typically hunts from a perch, waiting until prey gets close before pouncing on it. The following species have been recorded in its diet:


Not threatened, in fact common in many areas of southern Africa.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.