Indian roller

   ›      ›   Indian roller - Coracias benghalensis.

The Indian roller (Coracias benghalensis) belongs to the family of rollers, Coraciidae.

These species of rollers are distributed in Indian subcontinent, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. The rollers perform rolling aerial acrobatics with twists and turns during courtship or territorial flights, hence the name. There are two recognized subspecies of the Indian roller.

Indian roller - Overview

  • Scientific name: Coracias benghalensis
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Corvus benghalensis Linnaeus, 1758, Coracias indica
  • Family: Coraciidae › Coraciiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Indian roller, Chinese: 棕胸佛法僧, French: Rollier indien, German: Bengalenracke, Spanish: Carraca india, Russian: Бенгальская сизоворонка, Japanese: インドブッポウソウ, Arabic: الشقراق الهندي, Malay: Burung Tiong Gajah
  • Other names: Indian Blue Roller, Northern Roller, Southern Blue Roller
  • Distribution: Indian subcontinent, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates
  • Diet and feeding habits: beetles, moths, locusts, crickets, mantises, wasps, ants, caterpillars, winged termites, small vertebrates
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
Coracias benghalensis is closely related to the Indochinese roller (Coracias affinis), purple-winged roller (Coracias temminckii) and lilac-breasted roller (Coracias caudatus). The two recognized subspecies are: Coracias benghalensis benghalensis (Linnaeus, 1758) and Coracias benghalensis indicus Linnaeus, 1766.

Appearance, physical description and identification

The Indian roller (Coracias benghalensis) is a medium sized bird, measuring 30 to 35 cm in length and weighing 160 to 180 grams.

The neck and throat are pale purplish brown with whitish shaft streaks. The breast, back and nape are brownish. The crown, abdomen and vent region are blue. The primary feathers are purplish blue with a band of pale blue. The tail is sky blue with a terminal band of dark blue. The bare skin around the eye is rusty brown. The bill is long and compressed with a hooked tip. The roller call is a harsh crow-like sound.
Picture of Coracias benghalensis
Image of Indian roller - Coracias benghalensis
Image of Coracias benghalensis
Picture of Indian roller - Coracias benghalensis
Picture of Indian roller - Coracias benghalensis
Image of Indian roller - Coracias benghalensis

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The Indian roller is distributed in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. Vagrant birds have been recorded in Maldives, Qatar, Syria and Turkey.

The subspecies C. b. benghalensis is distributed in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. The subspecies C. b. indicus is distributed in Central and South India and Sri Lanka.

Ecosystem and habitat

The Indian roller species have very low forest dependency. They inhabit various ecosystems having open areas and pastures. They inhabit open farmlands, grasslands, fallow agricultural fields, plantations, urban parks, rural gardens, tropical and subtropical dry forests and dry savanna.

Diet and feeding habits

The diet of these species is mostly beetles, moths, locusts, crickets, mantises, wasps, ants, caterpillars and winged termites. They feed on the ground. They also feed on small vertebrates like frogs, lizards and snakes.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these roller species is mainly in March to June in India. The male establishes territory with rolling and diving aerial display which is typical of rollers. These birds are monogamous. They nest in tree holes, rock crevices and abandoned woodpecker holes. The clutch contains 3 to 5 eggs. the eggs are white and nearly spherical. Both the parents incubate the eggs and feed the hatchlings.

Migration and movement patterns

These roller species are non-migratory resident birds. Post breeding dispersal of juveniles takes place. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding.

Conservation status and concerns

The global population size of the Indian roller (Coracias benghalensis) has not been quantified. The overall population size is considered to be slow increasing. In most of its ranges this roller species is reported to be common and abundant. Their range in Iraq is found to be expanding. Their generation length is 5.6 years.

The Indian roller does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the Indian roller (Coracias benghalensis) and has listed it as of "Least Concern".

Taxonomy and scientific classification of Coracias benghalensis
Species:C. benghalensis
Binomial name:Coracias benghalensis
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
Popular posts In Birds of India

1.Image source:
Image author: Arshad.ka5 | License: CC BY 3.0
2.Image source:
Image author: Shantanu Kuveskar | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
3.Image source:
Image author: Mailamal | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
Current topic: Indian roller - Coracias benghalensis.
Contact State Tourism or travel agents for bird watching and wildlife tours.