I only came across a solitary Broad-billed Roller and, as they often do, it was perched in a tree. As it was above me – and climbing a tree was out of the question for a variety of reasons – I did all I could (waited patiently, made the odd non-threatening sound) to get him to look down, or even straight ahead rather than upwards, but to no avail. This was as good as it got.
The broad-billed roller, Eurystomus glaucurus, is a member of the roller family of birds and breeds across tropical Africa and out to Madagascar. It is a wet season breeder, and will migrate from the northern and southern areas of its range towards the moister equatorial belt in the dry season.
The Broad-billed Roller grows to around 30 centimetres (almost 12 inches) in length. It has predominantly brown plumage with some bright blues in the wings and the tail. The broad bill is bright yellow. The sexes are very similar, although the juvenile is a duller version of the adult and with a pale breast.
This is a species that enjoys open woodland with some tall trees, and preferably near a bit of water. They often perch prominently on trees, posts or even overhead wires.
They are inactive for much of the day, but in the late afternoon they hunt for ants and termites on which they mainly feed. They also often known to feed in large groups. Like swallows, they drink by dipping their bills into water in flight.
Nests are generally built in an unlined hole in a tree cavity, with the female laying a clutch of 2-3 eggs.