Blue-bellied rollers are found in western and central Africa, from Senegal eastward to southern Sudan.
Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )
Blue-bellied rollers are small birds with relatively large heads. They have heavy, downward-curved beaks and short legs to fit their stocky bodies. Blue-bellied rollers have cream-colored heads and chests, with pale-blue bellies and dark blue or dark green wings. These birds have a brownish-black mantle and scapulars with streaks of green. Blue-bellied rollers have azure-blue tails, which are slightly forked. They have an average wingspan of 359 mm, with each wing measuring an average length of 183 mm. Mass ranges from about 110 g to 150 g, with an average mass of 142 g. Blue-bellied rollers are generally about 280 mm to 300 mm in total length. Juveniles are typically smaller than adults, with duller coloration and a shorter tail. There are no known polymorphisms or subspecies.
Range mass: 110 to 150 g.
Average mass: 142 g.
Range length: 280 to 300 mm.
Average wingspan: 359 mm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike
Blue-bellied rollers live in wooded savanna, tree plantations, forest edges, recently burned land, and forests near marshes. These savanna areas are often forest edges, and are rarely more than several tens of meters above sea level.
Average elevation: 50 m.
Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; scrub forest
Other Habitat Features: agricultural
Habitat and Ecology
Blue-bellied rollers generally feed on large invertebrates such as beetles, grasshoppers, winged ants and termites. Blue-bellied rollers also feed on some small vertebrates, including colubrid snakes. They also eat oil-palm fruits.
Animal Foods: reptiles; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; terrestrial worms
Plant Foods: fruit
Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore )
Blue-bellied rollers act as predators towards large insect populations in central and western Africa. Because of their territorial habits they may benefit the trees they inhabit for shelter by warding off other animals that attempt to feed on the leaves.
Blue-bellied rollers are not heavily preyed on. In open savanna environments, blue-bellied rollers are typically large, powerful, and agile enough to escape most predators, such as carnivorous mammals and rodents, snakes, and hawks. Eggs, nestlings, and fledglings are most vulnerable. Blue-bellied rollers are less aggressive toward potential predators than they are to other animals that invade their territory.
Life History and Behavior
Social interaction and communication among blue-bellied rollers consists of calling, flying together, and chasing. These activities are used to show territoriality, maintain group unity, and initiate courtship.
Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
There is no available information on the specific lifespan of blue-bellied rollers, but there is information available pertaining to other species of rollers. European rollers (Coracias garrulus) live for approximately 8.9 years in captivity.
Blue-bellied rollers undergo courtship when specific rollers call loudly and raucously to attract their mates. Blue-bellied rollers, along with other "rollers" (Coraciidae), got their name from their unique courtship behaviors, in which they roll back and forth in the sky, tumbling to the ground, while calling loudly and raucously. Blue-bellied rollers are territorial and attack any birds that approach their nests. Males and females engage in a fast chasing flight, described above. One male copulates with one or two females. Blue-bellied rollers are sometimes monogamous and sometimes promiscuous. Male blue-bellied rollers have been known to copulate with two different females in intervals of only ten minutes, up to three males may copulate with the same female.
Mating System: monogamous ; polygynandrous (promiscuous)
Blue-bellied rollers breed in the spring and summer months, from April to July. They generally lay two or three eggs per season. Both parents incubate the eggs for about 18 to 20 days. Both parents feed the nestlings for about 30 days after hatching and for up to twenty days after fledging. Blue-bellied rollers typically become independent after about forty days. There is no information available regarding the age of sexual maturity.
Breeding interval: Blue-bellied rollers usually breed once yearly.
Breeding season: Blue-bellied rollers typically breed from April to July.
Range eggs per season: 2 to 3.
Range time to hatching: 22 to 24 days.
Average fledging age: 4 weeks.
Average time to independence: 40 days.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous
Blue-bellied rollers feed their young by means of regurgitation. Both parents incubate eggs for 18 to 20 days, although most incubation is done by the female parent. Both parents feed nestlings for 30 days and for up to 20 days after fledging.
Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)
Blue-bellied rollers have been placed in the lower risk/least concern category in the IUCN Red List in 1988, 1994 and 2000. These birds are not currently in any danger of extinction.
US Migratory Bird Act: no special status
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
There are no known adverse effects of blue-bellied rollers on humans.
Blue-bellied rollers are well-adapted to living in regions dominated by agriculture. They probably play a key role in pest control for farmers in these areas by eating insects which may otherwise feed on crops.
Positive Impacts: controls pest population
The blue-bellied roller (Coracias cyanogaster) is a member of the roller family of birds which breeds across Africa in a narrow belt from Senegal to northeast Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is resident, apart from some local seasonal movements, in mature moist savannah dominated by Isoberlinia trees.
The blue-bellied roller is a large bird, nearly the size of a jackdaw at 28–30 cm. It has a dark green back, white head, neck and breast, with the rest of the plumage mainly blue. Adults have 6 cm tail streamers. Sexes are similar, but the juvenile is a drabber version of the adult.
The blue-bellied roller is striking in its strong direct flight, with the brilliant blues of the wings contrasting with the dark back and white head, and the tail streamers trailing behind.
This is a common bird of warm open country with some trees. These rollers often perch prominently on trees, posts, or overhead wires, like giant shrikes, whilst watching for the grasshoppers and other large insects on which they feed.
The display of this bird is a lapwing-like display, with the twists and turns that give this species its English name. It nests in a hole in a tree - a tree cavity.
The call of blue-bellied roller is a harsh clicking ga-ga-ga sound.
Widespread and common throughout its large range, the blue-bellied roller is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Coracias cyanogaster in captivity
- This species can be kept in captivity and is sometimes seen in zoos, open air aviaries, and similar educational facilities.
- Kingfishers, Bee-eaters and Rollers by Fry, Fry and Harris, ISBN 0-7136-8028-8
Media related to Coracias cyanogaster at Wikimedia Commons