Bird of the Week – Lilacbreasted roller


THE lilacbreasted roller is often called the rainbow bird because it has seven different colours on its plumage.

The Zulu name is iFefe and in Afrikaans it’s known as troupant (wedding band).

In the first known act of conservation in Africa, Ndebele chief Lobengulu so loved this bird, he decreed the death penalty for any person killing a roller.

Troupant comes from the custom of Ndebele bridal couples who had to spend a week with each other’s hand bound together with a clutch of the bright blue feathers from the bird between their palms.

Distributed over much of the north and east regions of South Africa, it is a common resident of the savanna or open woodland.

Lilac rollers perch conspicuously on top of bushes, trees and telephone wires.


Soundclip: Africam

They fly to the ground to catch prey, their flight being fast and high. When in display, it dives with its wings almost closed, loops up and over, before dropping to its perch with its legs extended.

Rollers feed on insects, scorpions, centipedes, snails, frogs, small snakes, lizards and rodents.Its breeding season is from August to December. They lay two to four white eggs in a natural hole of a tree about two to six metres above the ground.

Incubation lasts 17 to 18 days and a nestling remains for over 20 days.


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