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Photographing The European Roller

The European roller is a very special bird and here you can find out how to photograph it.

| Eschenbach Arena D+ 10x50 B in Animals / Wildlife

Photographing The European Roller : European roller

The European roller is a very special bird: not only because of its beautiful plumage but also because the species has an uncommon survival system.


The European roller is a beautiful coloured bird the size of a Jackdaw (about 31 to 32 centimetres). He's a stocky bird surmounted by a big head. His legs are rather short compared to the size of his body. His powerful and slightly curved beak recalls that of a Raven.

The European roller has a shimmering plumage made up of different shades of blue. Rather turquoise in the shade, it turns into strong blue in the sun. His back is brown-red and he has a dark-coloured tail. The forehead and chin are grey-white, but these areas are very discreet. Males and females have similar plumages, even if females are paler. The young Roller’s feathers are less shimmery and they have brown throat and chest.



Denmark, Finland, the Czech Republic and Germany are breeding areas that have been abandoned for decades. In the 1960s and 1970s, agriculture became so intense that the European roller could no longer reproduce without being disturbed. Today, the species is considered extinct in these countries.

The European roller now breeds in Eastern Europe, Hungary, Italy, Spain and North West Africa. Its ideal habitats are the calm and warm meadows dotted with trees. This is essential for its nesting. As a migratory bird, the roller leaves Europe at the end of the summer and travel to South Africa to spend the winter.


Bird photography tips

Our bird of the week is a hunter. He perches high and dives to capture insects on land or even in flight. But he is clumsy on the ground. Rollers feed on large insects (grasshoppers, crickets), beetles, butterflies, lizards and even small mammals. The European roller breeds in natural tree cavities.

One of the amazing features of this species is the feeding after hatching. Nature has shown great ingenuity for all the chicks to be well fed. The plumage of young birds lacking food reflects more UV light than those of their stronger brothers and sisters. Parents know from this ploy which chick wants to eat more than the others. Another trick to survive is that in the event of a threat, young birds vomit an orange and foul-smelling liquid. This poisonous liquid makes the chicks unfit for consumption by predators.

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