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The Lilac – Breasted Roller

By April 12, 2020Pete & Vickis Blog

The Lilac  Breasted Roller

The lilac-breasted roller is an amazing  African bird . From a photographers point of view it is a wonderful bird to capture  as there are so many wonderful vibrant colors to it.  It prefers open woodland and savanna, and generally it is for the most part absent from treeless places. Usually found alone or in pairs,perched on high vantage points from where it can spot insects, lizards, scorpions, snails, small birds and rodents moving about on the ground.You will find it on the ground if it has found an inset on the ground. They are best viewed of the ground as you can get some awesome images when they are in the trees with the right light on them.

Nesting takes place in a natural hole in a tree where a clutch of 2–4 eggs are laid.  Both parents are extremely aggressive while defending  of their nest, taking on raptors and other birds. For there small size they show so much courage and will not be scared off while defending their young.

During the breeding season the male will rise to a fair height (69 to 144 metres), descending in swoops and dives,while uttering harsh, discordant cries.

When on Safari in Africa it is always a joy when you spot this bird as there colors are just so striking.

The diet of the lilac-breasted roller consists of arthropods and small vertebrates, including ground-dwelling insects, spiders, scorpions, centipedes and millipedes, snails, and a variety of small vertebrates, including small birds.

The key in getting a good picture of these most striking birds is to have the light on the right side of the bird and if you are fortunate enough to get the catch light in the eyes of the bird. For those new to photography, catch light is the sunlight in the eyes of the animal or bird and when you capture this , it makes all the difference to the picture that you take.

That’s the advantage for doing an Africa Safari with Africa Running Wild Safaris  where we put you on the right side of the animal for most of the time. Even if you are not a photographer and we get non photographers doing our tours, the big advantage for you is that you will have the right light on the animal or bird. That is half the battle in getting a good picture.

Often we are asked,how do we get images like this with these birds as this is a small bird and we are quite close to the bird. The key is to have a good company that is photography based where they will always wait for a while. More importantly, if we see something that all will benefit from, we will make a stop and capture what  ever the situation is.It is that simple. You won’t come home with images like this if you are on a run and gun safari. Africa Running Wild Safaris will always have time as we know  time is the key ingredient.

The the moments that you have enjoyed in your life are generally the  moments that come from having time.

Vicki and I never get tired of photographing this bird. Every time we see the bird it is always different. There is one shot that we are still to capture.That image that still alludes us is a good shot of this bird in flight. We do have pictures of it in flight but not pictures that we are happy with. This bird in flight has the most vivid blues under its wing. Just stunning and when you see it fly, you just can’t take your eyes of it.

Some say that the bird has 8 colors, others state 12 colors. Either way the colors are awesome and there are many.This bird gets its name due  to their mating display, which consists of a lot of dives and swoops accompanied by loud and harsh cries.It’s a light bird only weighing just over a 100 grams but packs a punch in flight. There life span is roughly 10 years in the wild. These birds usually mate for life.

The bird is common in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Botswana, northeastern South Africa, and much of Namibia although not found in the   the Namibian Desert.Although the bird is common it is far from being common at all. Just a stunning bird and in Kenya it shares the the national bird with the rooster .

Join us in the future on tour to this amazing country we call Africa.


Author Pete

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