Birds of the World

COAST BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  Rollers
 
 
 

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Coraciae: Coraciiformes - Rollers
 
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Coraciae
Bucerotiformes - Hornbills, Ground Hornbills
Upupiformes - Hoopoes, Wood Hoopoes, Scimitar-bills
Trogoniformes - Trogons
Coraciiformes -
   Rollers, Ground-Rollers, Cuckoo-Rollers
   Motmots, Todies, Kingfishers, Bee-eaters
Galbuliformes - Jacamars, Puffbirds
 
Images:   
Great Hornbill, Eurasian Hoopoe, Narina Trogon, Quetzal, Collared Trogon,
Violaceous Trogon, White-tailed Trogon, Indian Roller, Tody, Laughing Kookaburra,
White-throated Kingfisher
, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Collared Kingfisher, European Bee-eater,
Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Puffbird
 
  Order Coraciiformes - Rollers, Motmots, Todies,
         Kingfishers, Bee-eaters
Wiki     ToL     EoL
EXAMPLE
  This diverse group includes a variety of colorful birds usually with some fusion of the toes (syndactyly) and three forward -pointing toes. Their palate is desmognathous. This is largely an Old World and tropical group.
 
  Suborder Coracii - Rollers
   Most rollers have a syndactyl foot (toes 2-3-4 united at the base, 3-4 united through much of the length.
 
  Family Coraciidae - Typical Rollers
Wiki     ToL     EoL
  12 species, 2 genera (Coracias, Eurystomus). Old World - Africa, southern Europe; Arabia; central, southern and eastern Asia; Korea; Indonesia; Australia; New Guinea; and additional islands in the western Pacific. Related to bee-eaters and motmots.
   Colorful, crow-sized birds, best seen in flight during their rolling courtship displays. They are stout birds with a large head and short neck. They have a robust bill of medium length with a terminal hook. The vomer is narrow. Their wings are fairly long. They have strong legs and feet. Legs have long anterior tarsal scutes and the toes are syndactylous (the middle two toes are fused). Their nares are holorhinal and impervious. They have two carotids and long caeca. The oil gland is naked and flattened. They have an aftershaft and are diastaxic. Their plumage is often with bright blues and purples. Some species have elongated outer tail feathers ("streamers").  Sexes are alike.
   Rollers spend long periods perched watching for prey like shrikes - they feed on large insects which they take in flight (crickets, cicadas, termites) plus scorpions and small vertebrates. They also glean prey fleeing grass fires. They carry larger insects to a perch where they beat them to remove the wings before swallowing the body.
   Their calls are dry and abrupt, somewhat like crows but higher-pitched. They are found in open woodlands, plantations, grasslands, and around cultivated fields. Two species are found in more densely wooded areas. Most are resident. The longest migration is that of the European Roller, Coracias garrulus, with seasonal movements between central Europe and Africa south of the Sahara.
   Most species are monogamous. They have spectacular tumbling courtship flights and displays. They nest in a tree cavity or a rock crevice (rarely in holes dug by other birds). Northern species lay 2-3 eggs, 3-6 are found in the tropics. They incubate eggs for 18-20 days. Young fledge in 25-30 days. They are fed by both parents for about 3 weeks after fledging.
 
Indian Roller
Indian Roller, Coracias benghalensis.
Safa Park, Dubai UAE. South Asia.
Photo by Ed Konrad
                          Wiki     ToL     EoL
 
 
  Family Brachypteraclidae - Ground-Rollers
Wiki     ToL     EoL
  5 species, 3 (4) genera. Madagascar.
   These are large (crow-sized), terrestrial birds with shorter rounded wings and longer legs than typical rollers. They have a large head and eyes, and a short, strong bill. All have a long tongue with a brush-like tip. Their tail is long. The nails of the 1st and 4th toes turn outward, those of the 2nd and 3rd toes turn inward.
   They are cryptically colored, lacking  the brighter plumage of rollers. They have a variety of green, brown, and yellow or blue feathers, usually with striped or flecked plumage. In some, the sexes are alike - others have smaller and duller females.
   Ground-rollers are shy and elusive - only their hooting call giving them away. They spend much of the day roosting in thick cover and become more active in the morning and evening (one species is nocturnal). They forage alone or in pairs, climbing through thick vegetation or scattering leaf litter searching for prey which they pursue actively. They eat insects and their larvae (plus mollusks and small vertebrates). Most species live in lowland or lower montane rain forests with undergrowth and heavy leaf litter.
   Some defend territories year round. Most nest in holes in the ground which they excavate in steep earthen banks by themselves (one species uses tree cavities). [True rollers rarely nest on the ground and never dig their own holes.] They lay 2-4 eggs which the female incubates for 20-26 days.
 
  Family Leptosomidae - Cuckoo-Rollers, Courol
Wiki     ToL     EoL
  1 species, 1 genus (Leptosomus discolor). Madagascar and adjacent islands.
   The placement of this species is questionable. Morphology places it near the Falconiformes. In a recent study of DNA, the Courol and Hoatzin are the only two birds whose location is not clear - it appears to be at the root of a clade containing the Trogoniformes, Bucerotiformes, Piciformes, and Coraciiformes.
   The Courol is a medium-sized, short-legged insectivorous, arboreal bird. It has a large head with a short crest and a rounded forehead with upward curving feathers. The eyes appear to be set farther back. The bill is short and has slit-like nostrils. Their wings are long and rounded and the tail is square and relatively long. They have 10 primaries, 12 secondaries; 12 rectrices, and a large aftershaft on contour feathers. They have powder down in two patches in the lumbar region. Their legs are short and the 4th toe is widely spread - they usually perch with two toes facing forward, two backwards (now thought to be zygodactylous). The syrinx is bronchial. The oil gland is naked. 
   Sexes differ. Males are gray with metallic green and copper tones above. There is a think black line extending from the bill through the eye to the crown. Another band crosses the crown above the unusual forehead feathers. Females are browner and heavily spotted underneath.
   Cuckoo-rollers are usually found alone or in pairs. They use a sit-and-wait foraging strategy, usually on a concealed perch. They then fly, often high above the canopy, to catch passing insects. They may also eat caterpillars and other terrestrial insects and small vertebrates picked from the ground. They beat larger prey against a perch before swallowing it. They occur in a variety of forest types, including dry brush and scrub and around agricultural areas.
   They nest in tree cavities, laying 4-5 white eggs. The females incubate for about 20 days while they are fed by the male. Young are downy and fledge in 30 days.