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European roller.jpg
Adult European roller
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Coraciiformes
Family: Coraciidae
Genus: Coracias
Linnaeus, 1758

8, see text

  • Galgulus Brisson, 1760

Coracias is a genus of the rollers, an Old World family of near passerine birds related to the kingfishers and bee-eaters. They share the colourful appearance of those groups, blues and browns predominating. The two outer front toes are connected, but not the inner one.

Taxonomy and systematics[edit]

The name is from the Ancient Greek korakías (κορακίας),[1] derived from korax (κόραξ, ‘raven, crow’).[2] Aristotle described the coracias as a bird as big as a crow but has a red beak,[3] which some believe to be the chough.[4]

Extant species[edit]

Eight species are recognized:[5]

Image Common Name Scientific name Distribution
Coracias naevia -20090426B.jpg Purple roller Coracias naevius sub-Saharan Africa
Indian roller (Coracias benghalensis) Photograph by Shantanu Kuveskar.jpg Indian roller Coracias benghalensis Indian Subcontinent to Indochina
Purple-winged Roller Coracias temminckii - Flickr - Lip Kee.jpg Purple-winged roller Coracias temminckii slands of Sulawesi, Bangka, Lembeh, Manterawu, Muna and Butung.
Coracias spatulata 1zz.jpg Racket-tailed roller Coracias spatulatus southern Africa from Angola, south-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and southern Tanzania to northern Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique
Lilac breated Roller.JPG Lilac-breasted roller Coracias caudatus sub-Saharan Africa and the southern Arabian Peninsula
Coracias abyssinica - Carlos Vermeersch Santana.JPG Abyssinian roller Coracias abyssinicus tropical Africa in a belt south of the Sahara, known as the Sahel
European Roller (Coracias garrulus) (16475688389).jpg European roller Coracias garrulus Middle East, Central Asia and Morocco.
Blue-bellied Roller RWD5.jpg Blue-bellied roller Coracias cyanogaster Senegal to northeast Democratic Republic of the Congo

Former species[edit]

Formerly, some authorities also considered the following species (or subspecies) as species within the genus Coracias:

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

Coracias rollers are watch-and wait hunters. They sit in a tree or on a post before descending on their prey and carrying it back in the beak to a perch before dismembering it. A wide range of terrestrial invertebrates, and small vertebrates such as frogs, lizards rodents and young birds, are taken. Their prey includes items avoided by many other birds, such as hairy caterpillars, insects with warning colouration and snakes.[13] They often perch prominently whilst hunting, like giant shrikes.


  1. ^ André Jean François Marie Brochant de Villers; Alexandre Brongniart; Pierre Jean François Turpin (1818). Dictionnaire des sciences naturelles (in French). Levrault. p. 349.
  2. ^ Craig, John (1854). A New Universal, Technological, Etymological, and Pronouncing Dictionary of the English Language. p. 407.
  3. ^ Camus, Armand-Gaston (1783). Histoire des animaux d'Aristote (in French). Chez la veuve Desaint. p. 225.
  4. ^ Greek Word Study Tool
  5. ^ "Rollers, ground rollers & kingfishers « IOC World Bird List". Retrieved 2017-02-24.
  6. ^ "Oriolus sagittatus - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-02-24.
  7. ^ "Oriolus oriolus - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-02-25.
  8. ^ "Oriolus xanthornus - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  9. ^ "Eurystomus glaucurus - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-03-06.
  10. ^ "Eurystomus glaucurus afer - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-03-06.
  11. ^ "Eurystomus orientalis - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-03-06.
  12. ^ "Eurystomus orientalis pacificus - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-03-06.
  13. ^ Fry, C. H.; Fry, K. (30 June 2010). Kingfishers, Bee-eaters and Rollers. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 15–16. ISBN 978-1408134573. OCLC 25547477.

External links[edit]