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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Purple Roller

Afrikaans name: Groottroupant

Purple Roller

Purple Roller

Photo © Steven Herbert

Coracias naevius

Purple Roller behaviour

This large roller is not the most attractive of the rollers. Along with a rather rough sounding call it doesn’t have too much going for it. You are likely to see one sitting for lengthy periods of time on an exposed perch while it waits for prey to cross the open area beneath it. They may be encountered all year round in South Africa although there are some seasonal movements.

Purple Roller appearance

They are the largest of the rollers and can reach a length of 40 cm. Male and female have similar plumages. They have a powerful black bill, yellowish-white eye-stripe and white flecks on their dull purple breasts.

Purple Roller diet

These Rollers perch on an exposed branch and survey the ground for prey. They mostly eat insects, but they will also eat mice, small rodents, chicks and reptiles. Crickets, grasshoppers and locusts are the most taken prey.

Purple Roller breeding

Purple Rollers perform acrobatic aerial displays as part of their courtship routine. They then nest in a cavity in a tree, or sometimes in a hole in a man-made structure. The nest is normally at least 5 metres from the ground. Between 2 and 4 eggs are laid.

Purple Roller distribution and habitat

The Purple Roller is found in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. In South Africa it is found in the north and north-east. Its preferred habitats are thornveld, savanna and drier woodland. It is a common species in Kruger National Park.


References and further reading

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Year Published: 1975 - Page: 102

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Year Published: 1999 - Page: 39

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 128

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 390

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1993 - Page: 386

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 264

List of South African Birds

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