Home | Description | Distribution | Behaviour

Ecology and behaviour


Indian rollers are often seen perched on prominent bare trees or wires. They descend to the ground to capture their prey which may include insects, spiders, scorpions, 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.
Its 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.
A study on roosting behaviour found that immediately after waking up, the birds spend a few minutes preening followed by flying around their roosting sites. Favoured perches include electric or telegraphic wires. They have also been observed perching in trees and shrubs. Rollers tend mostly at a heights of 3–9 m height from where they forage for ground insects. They may also use taller perches and obtain insects from the upper canopy of trees.