Blue-bellied Roller

Coracias cyanogaster

Aerial Acrobats

These birds are numerous in Africa. They move in large flocks, predating upon insects that swarm around agricultural sites and the edges of recently burned areas.

About the Species

Blue-bellied rollers are stout, agile birds with brilliant blue plumage.

These brightly-colored African birds get the name "roller" from a unique courtship behavior. Mid-flight, these birds will begin to roll back and forth, tumbling towards the ground. This display attracts mates while providing a marvelous aerial show. Blue-bellied rollers also have unique "streamer" feathers that extend 6 cm beyond the ends of their tails. It is thought that these birds probably provide significant pest control for farmers, congregating near farmland and eating insects that may otherwise harm crops. This is known as biological pest control.

Words From the Experts


Blue-bellied rollers get their name from their rolling flight displays, which you can sometimes see as they are flying around in their habitat. Every afternoon, we offer them insects which we toss in the air for the rollers. They will often catch them in mid-air, which is quite impressive to see!


Did You Know?

Blue-bellied rollers "dive bomb" their prey from treetops, plummeting to the ground and quickly snatching their food.



Western and Central Africa


Savanna woodlands and forest edges, especially recently burned areas


Height: 28-30 cm (not including tail streamers), Wingspan: 30 cm on average, Weight: 110-178 g


Large invertebrates, small snakes and lizards, oil-palm fruit


Adults do not face predation, they are fast and nimble fliers.

Natural Defenses

Agile flight


These birds can be either monogamous or polygynandrous. Females will lay 2-3 eggs between April and July. Both parents feed the nestlings.


Least Concern

Life Expectancy

9 years on average in human care

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