The beautiful yet feisty Lilac-breasted roller bird, Africa’s most colorful bird

the beautiful yet feisty lilac breasted roller bird africas most colorful bird

The plumage on the lilac-breasted roller bird is gorgeous. The creature sports eight different colors to give it the impression of a mesmerizing rainbow. It may just be Africa‘s most colorful bird.

Native to sub-Saharan Africa and the national bird of Botswana and Kenya, the lilac bird is known to perch on treetops by the roadside to pounce on rodents and insects moving about on the ground.

An aggressive little fluff—especially when intruders get too close to their nest—the African Lilac-breasted roller birds are also renowned for the rolling flight pattern that sees them dip and dive from high in the sky in torpedo-like motion.

More Lilac-breasted roller facts


The Lilac-breasted Roller is a visual symphony of vibrant colors. It boasts a lilac breast, cyan head, and wings with contrasting shades of blue and turquoise. With a size ranging from 11-12 inches and a wingspan of 20-23 inches, it’s hard to miss this avian spectacle.

What Lilac Breasted Roller eats

Predominantly insectivorous, the Lilac-breasted Roller preys on grasshoppers, beetles, and other small arthropods. They are also opportunistic feeders, occasionally supplementing their diet with small reptiles and even rodents.


Breeding season typically occurs between September and April. The female bird usually deposits 2-4 eggs inside a tree cavity and then incubates them for a period of roughly 19-20 days. Both parents participate in feeding the fledglings until they are ready to leave the nest after about 19-20 days post-hatching.


The Lilac-breasted Roller performs acrobatic flight displays during courtship or territorial disputes and usually lives alone. However, you can occasionally find it in pairs. They perch conspicuously on trees or poles to spot their prey, swooping down to catch it with remarkable precision.


The bird thrives in open woodland and grassland areas, often near water bodies but avoiding desert and dense forests. It ranges throughout Eastern and Southern Africa, spanning from Ethiopia to South Africa.

Geographical Distribution

The Lilac-breasted Roller inhabits mainly sub-Saharan Africa, ranging from the north in Ethiopia and Somalia to the south in South Africa.

Availability for Sale

In many parts of Africa, capturing and selling wild Lilac-breasted Rollers is illegal. Despite this, some people still trade them in the exotic pet market. In short, these birds are hard to breed in captivity. You’ll best admire them in their natural habitat.

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