Top 10 Amazing Indian Roller Facts

One of the cutest birds in the world is one of the most acrobatic types of bird as well, and in this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of interesting Indian roller facts!

Interesting Indian roller facts

1. They are part of the extended roller family

The Indian Roller is part of the family “Coraciidae,” also known as the “rollers.” Their size and built resembles very much that of crows, even though they are way more colorful.

There are only 2 extant genera of rollers today, the “Coracias” which consists of 9 different species, and the “Eurystomus” which consists of 4 different species.

The species described in this post is part of the Coracias, along with for example the purple roller, the Indochine Roller, and the European roller.

Indian roller facts
The beautiful bird / Shantanu Kuveskar / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0

2. They have a vast range in Western Asia and India

One of the most remarkable Indian Roller facts is that their range isn’t just limited to the Indian subcontinent as it extends all across Western Asia.

Their range extends all the way from Iraq and the United Arab Emirates to southwestern Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. You will even find these birds as far as Sri Lanka and the Lakshadweep and Maldive Islands south of India.

Indian Roller range
Indian roller range / Ulrich prokop / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

3. Another type of bird was once considered to be a subspecies

There are 2 recognized subspecies of the Indian Roller, a bird that was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758. He gave the bird the scientific name of “Corvus benghalensis” because it was an individual from the Bengal area that was initially described.

The two recognized subspecies are:

  • C. b. benghalensis – Native to the northern part of the range.
  • C. b. indicus – Also referred to as the “Southern roller” and found in the southern part of the range.

The Indochinese roller, of which the range extends from eastern India all throughout Southeast Asia, was long considered to be a third subspecies but has now been excluded as such. It’s a bit larger and darker in color and is its own species.

Indochinese roller
Indochinese roller / JJ Harrison / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

4. Their European counterparts look extremely similar

Another similar bird lives to the west of the range of the Indian Roller and is referred to as the “European roller.” Contrary to the Indochinese roller, these two species could easily be mistaken with each other because they look very similar and are about equal in size as well.

This is mainly because the European roller is a migratory bird that spends its summer in parts of southern and eastern Europe, as well as vast areas in Western Asia which is home to its Indian counterpart.

The main difference between the two birds is the color of their chests, which is brown in the Indian and blue in the European roller.

European roller
European roller / Charles James Sharp / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0

5. These birds are well-built and medium-sized

This type of roller is considered to be a medium-sized bird as it grows to a length of anywhere between 28 and 34 centimeters (11 to 13 inches) on average. Their wingspan can reach a width of between 65 and 74 centimeters (25 and 29 inches).

These are also quite stocky birds as they have an average weight of anywhere between 166 and 176 grams (5.85 to 6.2 oz).

Indian roller in flight
The bird in flight / Sammy Sam / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

6. They eat a wide variety of small animals

You will usually see these birds sitting in trees at a height of between 3 to 10 meters (10 to 30 feet) as they are scouring for small animals on the ground. If they spot prey, they will dive towards it and capture it with their large bills which includes a hooked tip.

One of the most remarkable Indian Roller facts is that they eat a wide variety of small animals as well. These may include numerous insects, spiders, small snakes, amphibians, and even scorpions!

If you’re a small animal crawling on the ground, then you’re definitely not safe from these predators.

Indian roller eating scorpion
Eating a red scorpion / Shantanu Kuveskar / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

7. They got their English name from an acrobatic performance

So why are these birds called rollers, anyways?

During the breeding season, which happens each year between March and June, the male birds try to lure females by doing an amazing performance that includes an acrobatic display.

This fascinating behavior consists of twisting and turning in the air which is why they have been given the name rollers in English.

Indian roller acrobatic display
About to perform / Soumikbiswas / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

8. These birds are monogamous birds

When the male roller finally managed to attract a female, these birds stay together for life. They nest in holes of trees or any other suitable cavity to incubate their eggs, something that is done by both the male and the female.

The clutch consists of between 3 and 5 eggs and the incubation period lasts between 17 and 19 days. Just a month later, the young are ready to fledge!

Indian roller interesting facts
The amazing bird / Akshaygn / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

9. They love to take a dive in the water

One of the most fascinating Indian roller facts is that these acrobats also love to bathe in the water. When they do, they literally dive into the water as if they were puffins trying to catch fish.

This doesn’t mean that they don’t attempt to catch fish, though, because they have been spotted catching fish this way as well. Yes, this is quite a versatile type of bird!

Interesting Indian roller facts
Looking to take a diver / Pixabay

10. It’s the state bird of multiple states in India

Because of their vast range and their ability to easily adapt to their environment, these birds are far from being endangered. That’s why they are listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.

They are also considered to be sacred to Vishnu in multiple parts of India and were even caught and used during multiple festivals in the country.

Even though the peacock is considered to be the national bird of India, the Indian roller has been chosen as the state bird of several Indian states, including Odisha, Karnataka, and Telangana.

Indian roller fun facts
The state bird / Shantanu Kuveskar / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/deed.en

This concludes the ultimate list of interesting Indian Roller facts, one of the most fascinating birds in the world which truly behaves like an acrobat during breeding season!