Possibly the most commonly encountered colourful bird in the Kruger Park is the Lilac-breasted Roller: a year round resident conspicuously perched on an open branch providing the classic bird’s ‘eye view’ of its immediate surroundings.
Yet it is only one of a suite of five strikingly colourful rollers that occur in Southern Africa.
Next in line is the Purple Roller found throughout mixed woodland in the north of the country and dry savanna habitat to the west and into Namibia. Once again a conspicuous species perching on any suitable elevated perch from a dead tree to a telegraph pole or the wires in between.
Far more localised and confined to the low-lying coastal floodplains and forest edges is the Broad-billed Roller. An intra-Africa species arriving with the advent of the summer rains and usually located by its raucous territorial calls as it circles above the woodland canopy.
By far the most prevalent of all the rollers found in the Kruger Park is the non-breeding European Roller which arrives in large numbers in late November and is found throughout the length of the Park through to departure north in late summer.
But of all the rollers it is the somewhat secretive and ever so alluring Racquet-tailed Roller that represents the ‘jewel’ in the roller crown, found in the far north of the park in well-developed mixed woodland, within the Makuleke tribal concession beyond the Luvhvhu river bridge. Shy and secretive, its preferred still-hunting perch is under the canopy of a large well foliaged tree as opposed to an openly exposed site favoured by other rollers in the family. Most striking are the conspicuous spatulate outer tail feathers as the ID feature to look for as definitive confirmation.
So a colourful suite of five rollers to target when next visiting the Kruger Park in the summer months as the most photogenic and striking of all the larger woodland birds on offer…
For more info on birds in South Africa contact us on email@example.com