The Lilac-breasted Roller (Coracias caudatus) is a member of the roller family of birds. It is widely distributed in sub-Saharan Africa and the southern Arabian Peninsula, preferring open woodland and savanna; it is largely absent from treeless places. Usually found alone or in pairs, it perches conspicuously at the tops of trees, poles or other high vantage points from where it can spot insects, lizards, scorpions, snails, small birds and rodents moving about at ground level. Nesting takes place in a natural hole in a tree where a clutch of 2–4 eggs is laid, and incubated by both parents, who are extremely aggressive in defence of their nest, taking on raptors and other birds. During the breeding season the male will rise to great heights, descending in swoops and dives, while uttering harsh, discordant cries. The sexes are alike in coloration. Juveniles do not have the long tail feathers that adults do. It is also the national bird of Botswana and Kenya.
The rollers are an Old World family, Coraciidae, of near passerinebirds. The group gets its name from the aerial acrobatics some of these birds perform during courtship or territorial flights. Rollers resemble crows in size and build, and share the colourful appearance of kingfishers and bee-eaters, blues and pinkish or cinnamon browns predominating. The two inner front toes are connected, but not the outer one.
They are mainly insect eaters, with Eurystomus species taking their prey on the wing, and those of the genus Coracias diving from a perch to catch food items from on the ground, like giant shrikes.
Although living rollers are birds of warm climates in the Old World, fossil records show that rollers were present in North America during the Eocene. They are monogamous and nest in an unlined hole in a tree or in masonry, and lay 2–4 eggs in the tropics, 3–6 at higher latitudes. The eggs, which are white, hatch after 17–20 days, and the young remain in the nest for approximately another 30 days.