Thai National Parks

Birds of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Indian roller

Binomial name: Coracias benghalensis, Carolus Linnaeus, 1758

The Indian roller (Coracias benghalensis), is a member of the roller family of birds. They are found widely across tropical Asia stretching from Iraq eastward across the Indian Subcontinent to Indochina and are best known for the aerobatic displays of the male during the breeding season. They are very commonly seen perched along roadside trees and wires and are commonly seen in open grassland and scrub forest habitats. It is not migratory, but undertakes some seasonal movements. The largest populations of the species are within India, and Several states in India have chosen it as their state bird.

Description

The Indian roller is a stocky bird about 26–27 cm long and can only be confused within its range with the migratory European roller. The breast is brownish and not blue as in the European Roller. The crown and vent are blue. The primaries are deep purplish blue with a band of pale blue. The tail is sky blue with a terminal band of Prussian blue and the central feathers are dull green. The neck and throat are purplish lilac with white shaft streaks. The bare patch around the eye is ochre in colour. The three forward toes are united at the base. Rollers have a long and compressed bill with a curved upper edge and a hooked tip. The nostril is long and exposed and there are long rictal bristles at the base of the bill.

Three subspecies are usually recognized. The nominate form is found from West Asia (Iraq, Arabia) east across the Indian Subcontinent, and within India north of the Vindhyas mountain ranges. The subspecies indicus is found in peninsular India and Sri Lanka. The southern form has a darker reddish collar on the hind neck which is missing in the nominate form. The race affinis of northeastern India and Southeast Asia (Thailand, Myanmar, Indochina) is sometimes considered a full species, but within the Indian region, it is seen to intergrade with benghalensis. The form affinis is darker, larger and has a purplish brown and unstreaked face and breast. It has underwing coverts in a deeper shade of blue.

Distribution and habitat

The Indian roller is distributed across Asia, from West Asia (Iraq), through the Indian Subcontinent (including Sri Lanka and the islands of Lakshadweep and Maldive Islands) into Southeast Asia.

The main habitat is cultivation, thin forest and grassland. They are often seen perched on roadside electric wires.

Ecology and behaviour

These birds are usually seen perched on prominent bare trees or wires. They descend to the ground to capture their prey which may include insects, arachnids, small reptiles (including Calotes versicolor and small snakes and amphibians. Fires attract them and they will also follow tractors for disturbed invertebrates. In agricultural habitats in southern India, they have been found at densities of about 50 birds per km2. They perch mainly on 3—10 metre high perches and feed mostly on ground insects. Nearly 50% of their prey are beetles and 25% made up by grasshoppers and crickets. The feeding behaviour of this roller and habitat usage are very similar to that of the black drongo. During summer, they may also feed late in the evening and make use of artificial lights and feed on insects attracted to them. They are attracted to swarms of winged termites and as many as 40 birds have been seen to perch on a 70-metre stretch of electric wires. Their habit of feeding near roadsides sometimes results in collisions with traffic. A decline in the numbers of these birds seen along roadsides in northern India has been noted.

The display of this bird is an aerobatic display, with the twists and turns that give this species its English name. The breeding season is March to June, slightly earlier in southern India. Displays when perched include bill-up displays, bowing, allopreening, wing drooping and tail fanning. Holes created by woodpeckers or wood boring insects in palms are favoured for nesting in some areas. Nest cavities may also be made by tearing open rotten tree trunks or in cavities in building. The cavity is usually unlined and is made up mainly of debris from the wood. The normal clutch consists of about 3-5 eggs. The eggs are white and broad oval or nearly spherical. Both sexes incubate the eggs for about 17 to 19 days. The young fledge and leave the nest after about a month. Nearly 80% of the eggs hatch and fledge.

The call of the Indian roller is a harsh crow-like chack sound. It also makes a variety of other sounds, including metallic boink calls. It is especially vociferous during the breeding season.

The bird bathes in open water by plunge-diving into it, a behaviour often interpreted as fishing.

But it may occasionally attempt fishing from water.

Blood parasites Leucocytozoon of the family Plasmodiidae have been noted in the lung tissues. Parasitic helminth worms Hadjelia truncata and Synhimantus spiralis were recorded as well.

In culture

The Indian roller is very common in the populated plains of India and associated with legends. It is said to be sacred to Vishnu, and used to be caught and released during festivals such as Dussera and Durga Puja. A local Hindi name is neelkanth, meaning "blue throat", a name associated with the deity Shiva (who drank poison resulting in the blue throat).

Another local name in Telugu is 'pala pitta', and in Kannada it is 'neelakanthi'.

Adding its chopped feathers to grass and feeding them to cows was believed to increase their milk yield. The Indian roller has been chosen as the state bird by the Indian states of Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Odisha.

This article uses material from Wikipedia released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike Licence 3.0. Eventual photos shown in this page may or may not be from Wikipedia, please see the license details for photos in photo by-lines.

Videos of Indian roller

  • Indian roller

    Indian roller

  • Indian roller

    Indian roller

Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Coraciiformes
Family
Coraciidae
Genus
Coracias
Species
Coracias benghalensis

Synonyms

  • Corvus benghalensis
  • Coracias indica

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Distribution map of Indian roller, Coracias benghalensis in Thailand
  • Ao Manao-Khao Tanyong National Park
  • Ao Phang-Nga National Park
  • Ban Bueng District, Chonburi
  • Ban Chang District, Rayong
  • Ban Laem District, Phetchaburi
  • Ban Lat District, Phetchaburi
  • Ban Lueam District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Ban Phai District, Khon Kaen
  • Ban Phraek District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Ban Sang District, Prachinburi
  • Bang Ban District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Bang Pa In District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Bang Pahan District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Bang Phra Non-hunting Area
  • Bang Pu Recreation Centre
  • Bang Saphan Noi District, Prachuap Khiri Khan
  • Bangkok Province
  • Borabue District, Maha Sarakham
  • Bueng Boraped Non-hunting Area
  • Chae Hom District, Lampang
  • Chaiya District, Surat Thani
  • Chaloem Phra Kiat District, Saraburi
  • Chiang Dao District, Chiang Mai
  • Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Chiang Khong District, Chiang Rai
  • Chiang Saen District, Chiang Rai
  • Doi Chong National Park
  • Doi Inthanon National Park
  • Doi Lo District, Chiang Mai
  • Doi Pha Hom Pok National Park
  • Doi Suthep-Pui National Park
  • Doi Tao District, Chiang Mai
  • Dong Kheng Forest Park
  • Erawan National Park
  • Fang District, Chiang Mai
  • Hang Chat District, Lampang
  • Hat Chao Mai National Park
  • Hat Khanom - Mu Koh Thale Tai National Park
  • Hat Noppharat Thara - Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park
  • Hat Wanakon National Park
  • Hat Yai District, Songkhla
  • Hua Hin District, Prachuap Khiri Khan
  • Huai Chorakhe Mak Reservoir Non-hunting Area
  • Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Huai Sala Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Huai Talat Reservoir Non-hunting Area
  • Huai Yang Waterfall National Park
  • Kabin Buri District, Prachinburi
  • Kaeng Khoi District, Saraburi
  • Kaeng Krachan District, Phetchaburi
  • Kaeng Krachan National Park
  • Kaeng Krung National Park
  • Kanthararom District, Sisaket
  • Kantharawichai District, Maha Sarakham
  • Kaset Sombun District, Chaiyaphum
  • Khanom District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Khao Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Chamao - Khao Wong National Park
  • Khao Khitchakut National Park
  • Khao Laem National Park
  • Khao Lak - Lam Ru National Park
  • Khao Luang National Park
  • Khao Nang Panthurat Forest Park
  • Khao Phra - Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
  • Khao Sanam Prieng Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Sok National Park
  • Khao Yai National Park
  • Khao Yoi District, Phetchaburi
  • Khlong Lan National Park
  • Khlong Wang Chao National Park
  • Khon San District, Chaiyaphum
  • Khuan Khanun District, Phatthalung
  • Khun Chae National Park
  • Khun Tan District, Chiang Rai
  • Khung Kraben Non-hunting Area
  • Khura Buri District, Phang Nga
  • Klaeng District, Rayong
  • Ko Samui District, Surat Thani
  • Ko Sichang District, Chonburi
  • Ko Tao
  • Kromluang Chumphon Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Kui Buri National Park
  • Kumphawapi District, Udon Thani
  • Laem Ngop District, Trat
  • Laem Pak Bia
  • Lan Sang National Park
  • Mae Ai District, Chiang Mai
  • Mae Charim National Park
  • Mae Moei National Park
  • Mae Ping National Park
  • Mae Rim District, Chiang Mai
  • Mae Sot District, Tak
  • Mae Taeng District, Chiang Mai
  • Mae Tha, Lampang District, Lampang
  • Mae Wong National Park
  • Mu Ko Chang National Park
  • Mu Ko Chumphon National Park
  • Mu Ko Lanta National Park
  • Mu Ko Phetra National Park
  • Mu Ko Similan National Park
  • Mueang Buriram District, Buriram
  • Mueang Chachoengsao District, Chachoengsao
  • Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai
  • Mueang Chonburi District, Chonburi
  • Mueang Chumphon District, Chumphon
  • Mueang Kamphaeng Phet District, Kamphaeng Phet
  • Mueang Kanchanaburi District, Kanchanaburi
  • Mueang Khon Kaen District, Khon Kaen
  • Mueang Krabi District, Krabi
  • Mueang Lampang District, Lampang
  • Mueang Lopburi District, Lopburi
  • Mueang Nakhon Nayok District, Nakhon Nayok
  • Mueang Nakhon Ratchasima District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Mueang Nakhon Si Thammarat District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Mueang Nan District, Nan
  • Mueang Pattani District, Pattani
  • Mueang Phang Nga District, Phang Nga
  • Mueang Phetchabun District, Phetchabun
  • Mueang Phetchaburi District, Phetchaburi
  • Mueang Phichit District, Phichit
  • Mueang Phitsanulok District, Phitsanulok
  • Mueang Phuket District, Phuket
  • Mueang Ratchaburi District, Ratchaburi
  • Mueang Rayong District, Rayong
  • Mueang Sa Kaeo District, Sa Kaeo
  • Mueang Satun District, Satun
  • Mueang Songkhla District, Songkhla
  • Mueang Sukhothai District, Sukhothai
  • Mueang Suphanburi District, Suphan Buri
  • Mueang Surat Thani District, Surat Thani
  • Mueang Surin District, Surin
  • Mueang Tak District, Tak
  • Mueang Trat District, Trat
  • Nam Nao National Park
  • Nam Phong National Park
  • Namtok Mae Surin National Park
  • Namtok Sam Lan National Park
  • Non Din Daeng District, Buriram
  • Non Thai District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Nong Bong Khai Non-hunting Area
  • Nong Song Hong District, Khon Kaen
  • Nong Ya Plong District, Phetchaburi
  • Nong Yai Area Development Project Under Royal Init
  • Ob Khan National Park
  • Pachee River Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Pai District, Mae Hong Son
  • Pak Chong District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Pak Phanang District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Pak Phli District, Nakhon Nayok
  • Pak Thale
  • Pak Tho District, Ratchaburi
  • Pak Thong Chai District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Pang Sida National Park
  • Pang Sila Thong District, Kamphaeng Phet
  • Pathio District, Chumphon
  • Pha Daeng National Park
  • Pha Hin Ngam National Park
  • Pha Taem National Park
  • Phaisali District, Nakhon Sawan
  • Phanat Nikhom District, Chonburi
  • Phatthana Nikhom District, Lopburi
  • Pho Prathap Chang District, Phichit
  • Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park
  • Phu Khiao Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Phu Kradueng National Park
  • Phu Luang Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Phu Soi Dao National Park
  • Phu Suan Sai National Park
  • Phu Toei National Park
  • Phu Wiang National Park
  • Prachantakham District, Prachinburi
  • Pran Buri District, Prachuap Khiri Khan
  • Pran Buri Forest Park
  • Ramkhamhaeng National Park
  • Ratchasan District, Chachoengsao
  • Rattanaburi District, Surin
  • Sai Yok District, Kanchanaburi
  • Sai Yok National Park
  • Sakaerat Environmental Research Station
  • Salak Pra Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Salawin National Park
  • Samut Prakan Province
  • San Sai District, Chiang Mai
  • Sanam Bin Reservoir Non-hunting Area
  • Sangkhla Buri District, Kanchanaburi
  • Sathing Phra District, Songkhla
  • Sattahip District, Chonburi
  • Sawi District, Chumphon
  • Si Maha Phot District, Prachinburi
  • Si Racha District, Chonburi
  • Si Satchanalai District, Sukhothai
  • Si Satchanalai National Park
  • Si Sawat District, Kanchanaburi
  • Si Thep District, Phetchabun
  • Sikao District, Trang
  • Sirinat National Park
  • Sop Prap District, Lampang
  • Sri Nakarin Dam National Park
  • Su-ngai Kolok District, Narathiwat
  • Ta Phraya National Park
  • Taksin Maharat National Park
  • Takua Pa District, Phang Nga
  • Taphan Hin District, Phichit
  • Tarutao National Marine Park
  • Tha Sala District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Tha Takiap District, Chachoengsao
  • Tha Yang District, Phetchaburi
  • Thai Mueang District, Phang Nga
  • Thalang District, Phuket
  • Thale Ban National Park
  • Thale Noi Non-hunting Area
  • Tham Pla - Namtok Pha Suea National Park
  • Tham Pratun Non-hunting Area
  • Than Sadet - Koh Pha-Ngan National Park
  • Thao Kosa Forest Park
  • Thap Lan National Park
  • Thawat Buri District, Roi Et
  • Thong Pha Phum National Park
  • Thung Salaeng Luang National Park
  • Thung Tako District, Chumphon
  • Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Wang Chan District, Rayong
  • Wapi Pathum District, Maha Sarakham
  • Wat Tham Erawan Non-hunting Area
  • Watthana Nakhon District, Sa Kaeo

Range map of Coracias benghalensis in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are based on limited data we have collected. The data is not necessarily accurate or complete.

Special thanks to Ton Smits and Parinya Pawangkhanant for their help with many range data.

Contribute or get help with ID

Please help us improving our species range maps. To add a new location to the range map we need a clear image of the specimen you have encountered. No problem if you do not know the species, we will do our best to identify it for you.

For the location, please provide the district name or the national park/ wildlife sanctuary name.

Please post your images to our Thai Species Identification Help group on Facebook.