Indian Roller

Indian Roller  Coracias   benghalensis/affinis


  • Coracias : Greek word for Crow like
  • Benghalensis: From Bengal in India

Coracias affinis ( Sub species)

  • Coracias : Greek word for Crow like
  • Affinis : Latin word for related ,Similarity

The Indian roller has been chosen as the state bird by the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka and Telangana.

Vernacular Names : Baluchistan: Kangashk, Sind: Chari, Hindi: BhartiyaNeelkanth, Sabzak, Kash: Nilakash, Pun: Nil kanth or Garar, Ben: Nilkantha, Ass: Nilkantho, Katnas, Konsa, Cachar: Dao gatang, Lepcha: Takral, Guj: Deshinilkant, Chash, Mar: BhartiyaNilpankh, Tas, Chash,Ori: Bhadabhadalia, Ta: Kattukadei, Pal kuruvi, Panamkadai, Kottai-kili, Te: Pala pitta, Mal: Panamkakka, Kan: Neelakanthi, Sinh: Dunkawa, Dunkawuluwa, Dumbona

Distribution inIndia:Resident across India except upper reaches of Himalayas

Description: Size of 30–34 cm; 166–176 g.The breast is brownish. 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 ocher 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.The nominate race has blue crown, brownish back; cheeks and breast are lilac with whitish streaks, belly pale blue; bill is blackish, with dull orange base to lower mandible; orbital skin is yellow. Race indicus is smaller, darker and richer-toned.Race C. affinisis larger much darker, with purple breast and dark olive back, hardly streaked on face throat and breast, dull brownish  upper belly and wings more dark blue than turquoise, while tail has more turquoise. The juvenile has pale-streaked throat.

Habitat: It is found in farmland, pasture, stubble, plantations, palm groves, woods, roadsides with telegraph wires and wayside grass; also villages, preferably with a few tall buildings, and old and modern buildings near shrubby or green places in suburbs and cities; also parks, playing fields, large gardens, and grassy roundabouts. In South India it is commonest in agricultural land, followed by river banks and in open forested areas. It is found from low lands to 2000 m.

 Food Habits: It mainly eats insects, arachnids, small reptiles, small snakes and amphibians. It forages all day, continues to feed well into dusk, and even at night. It watches from elevated, exposed perch, on sighting prey, descends in leisurely-looking glide, alights next to prey and snatches it in bill; then beats it against ground, or moves to a hard perch to do so; most vertebrates swallowed whole. It sometimes hovers momentarily above prey. Insects, including cicadas and butterflies, taken on the wing after brief flight; sometimes takes insects attracted to street lights. It dives into water for frogs, and may briefly submerge. It scavenges on road kills. It is strongly attracted to grass and bush fires, pursuing prey through smoke.

Breeding Habits: The breeding season is May-July. They display in an aerobatic display, with the twists and turns that give this species its English name,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. The nest cavities may also be made by tearing open rotten tree trunks or in cavities in building. The cavity is lined with bits of grass, twigs, feathers, paper and rag brought by both sexes. The normal clutch consists of about 3-5 eggs. Both sexes incubate the eggs for about 17 to 19 days. The young fledge and leave the nest after about a month.

It is said to be sacred to Lord 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 Lord Shiva (who drank poison resulting in the blue throat).