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Eurystomus glaucurus (Broad-billed roller)

Geelbektroupant [Afrikaans]; Breedbekscharrelaar roller [Dutch]; Rolle violet [French]; Zimtroller [German]; Rolieiro-de-bico-amarelo [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

Eurystomus glaucurus (Broad-billed roller) Eurystomus glaucurus (Broad-billed roller)

Broad-billed rollers. [photo Jeff Poklen ]

Broad-billed roller, Kruger National Park, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]

The Broad-billed roller is found from Senegal east to Somalia, extending south to Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana and north-eastern South Africa. Here it is fairly common in savanna, as well as clearings in woodlands. It is a specialist predator, mainly eating swarming termite and ant alates, as well as beetles and bugs. It mainly nests in unlined cavities in trees 5-15 m above ground. It also nests in holes of barns (recorded in Zimbabwe). It lays 2-4 eggs, timing laying to coincide with the emergence of insects after rain.

Distribution and habitat

Occurs across sub-Saharan Africa; in southern Africa it is fairly common in the Caprivi Strip (Namibia), northern and eastern Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and north-eastern South Africa. It generally prefers savanna and clearings in woodlands.

Distribution of Broad-billed 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.  


Intra-African breeding migrant, mainly breeding in southern Africa before moving north in the non-breeding season. Flocks start to arrive in southern Africa in September, leaving in the period from December to April.


It is a specialist predator, mainly eating swarming termite and ant alates, as well as beetles and bugs. It hunts aerially, often in large flocks. The following percentages indicate the proportion of that food item in its diet, (e.g. roughly 9% of its diet is beetles). In one study, the following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • It mainly nests in unlined cavities about 5-15 m above ground, usually in a tree but occasionally in a barn.
Eurystomus glaucurus (Broad-billed roller)  

Broad-billed roller in its tree hollow, Kruger Park, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ]

  • It lays 2-4 eggs, typically timed with the emergence of insects after rain.


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.