European roller (Coracias garrulus) - Bird of 2015 Year

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The annual campaign "Bird of the Year" has come to an end. The European roller (Coracias garrulus), with 1037 votes, has been chosen as the bird symbolizing the 2015.

Unlike previous years the candidates of "Bird of the Year 2015" were five species: Little owl, Egyptian vulture, Eurasian blackbird, European roller and Common swift. In summary European roller (1037 votes), Egyptian vulture (337 votes) and Little owl (334 votes) got in Top 3.

2123 participants were involved in this campaign, both from Yerevan and other parts of Armenia.

All of them got the opportunity to vote on-line (on ASPB official web-site) and using distributed voting sheets for the reason for the lack of internet in remote regions of Armenia.

"Bird of the Year" campaign is aimed to focus the public attention on bird species and habitats conservation issues. ASPB scheduled to have meetings with schoolchildren and to organize intraschool contests, also in addition to increase public awareness about this bird species some publications will be distributed too.

European roller with its composition and body structures very similar to Corvidae, but differs with its bright blue color, in connection with which it can be observed even on a long distances. European roller has the size of a pigeon. It is distinguished by its powerful beak, strong legs and large wings. Total length of the body is 30-32 cm, wingspan is 66-73 cm, weight - 110-160 g. European roller has bright and colorful plumage, mostly with blue and green colors. It has sharp squeaky voice.  European roller is widely spread in Europe and winters in South Africa.

In Armenia this species is recorded in the second part of April. The roller does not keep aloof from human presence, however displays some caution. This species is diurnal and prefers not to stay on the ground for a long. European roller is entomophage (exclusively insectivorous), though sometimes in fall season they feed on berries and seeds, catch lizards and rodents spotted while sitting on tree or electric wires. This colorful species usually avoids bushy tree sites, mostly prefers desert and semidesert. However it is found in forests, steppes and anthropogenic landscapes. In mountainous regions this bird is nesting on 1500-1600 m, rarely on 2000 m high. European roller is nesting in tree hollows, wall cracks, sandy or clay downhill chamfers.

Male and female look similar both in size and colors. From the middle of spring the courtship displays (mating dance) of these birds start. During this period male starts to make difficult movements in the air accompanied with voice modulations to capture the female's attention on him. They oviposit 4-5 eggs and for one month both parents are involved in feeding of the chicks.

This bird species is notable for its agricultural importance, ensuring the health of the trees and agricultural crops by eating beetles and other insect pests. European roller is included in the Red List of Armenia and classified as Vulnerable. It is protected by the RA “Law on Fauna”.

Interesting facts

  • Due to its sharp eyesight European roller catches the sight of prey even from a height of 8-10 meters. Having spotted an insect on the ground or plant, the roller flies down and takes the prey.
  • Adult individuals eat 25 insects on the average, juveniles eat up to 21 per day.
  • Their communal defense from predators and other enemies is especially noteworthy.
  • The quest for food may take them away for distance from the nest for a kilometer and more.

Armenian Society for the Protection of Birds thanks all those who participated in the voting campaign.


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