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Discover the Stunning Beauty and Fascinating Behavior of the Blue-throated Roller

Blue-throated Roller: A Magnificent Bird of the ForestIf you’re a nature enthusiast, you may have come across the strikingly beautiful Blue-throated Roller, a bird that is known for its vibrant colors and unique behavior. This bird can be found in different countries across Asia, including Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia.

They are loved by birdwatchers for their distinctive calls, energetic aerial displays, and stunning appearance. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide to the Blue-throated Roller’s identification, different plumages, and molts.


The Blue-throated Roller is a medium-sized bird that measures about 32cm in length and weighs around 110-130g. They have a distinct blue throat that is flanked by a broad black band.

Their wings and back are turquoise, while their tail feathers and head are blue. The upper part of their bill is red, while the lower is black.

The eyes are dark, and the legs are red. Overall, they have a unique and stunning appearance that stands out from other birds.



The Blue-throated Roller can be easily identified in the field by its striking blue throat and black band. During flight, it displays a bright turquoise color on the wings and back, with a contrasting blue on the tail and head.

They have a distinctive call that is a loud, sharp ‘klaack’ or ‘kraa’ sound, which they repeat twice or thrice. The Blue-throated Roller is usually seen perching on exposed branches, often scanning the ground below for prey.

Similar Species

The Blue-throated Roller can be mistaken for other species in the same family, such as the Indochinese Roller or Dollarbird, which both have blue plumages. However, the Indochinese Roller has a blue chin and lacks the black band on the throat, while the Dollarbird has white spots on its wings and a broad blue crescent on the throat.


The Blue-throated Roller has only one recognized plumage, which is the adult breeding plumage we have described above. However, juveniles lack the blue throat and black band, appearing mainly brown, with a hint of blue on the wings.

They mature over time and develop their adult plumage by their first year.


The Blue-throated Roller begins to replace its feathers in July when the breeding season is over. During this non-breeding period, both adults and juveniles undergo a simultaneous complete body molt.

Their upperparts are replaced first, followed by their flight feathers and tail. By October, the molt is complete, and they move to the breeding areas to start the next cycle.


The Blue-throated Roller is an incredibly beautiful bird that has captivated the hearts of nature enthusiasts worldwide. With its stunning blue and black plumage, distinctive call, and unique behavior, it is a bird to remember.

Identifying it can be a breeze with the right information, as we have provided. We hope this guide has been informative and engaging, and we encourage you to spot the Blue-throated Roller next time you’re out in the forest!

Blue-throated Roller: A Bird of Evolution and Migration

Systematics History

The Blue-throated Roller is a member of the family Coraciidae, which includes about 12 species of colorful rollers that are found in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Europe, and Asia. Taxonomists have long studied the relationships between various roller species to understand their evolutionary history and diversification.

Due to their distinctive plumage, behavior, and vocalizations, rollers have been the subject of much scientific research, including molecular genetics, biogeography, and phylogenetics.

Geographic Variation

Blue-throated Rollers are widely distributed throughout Southeast Asia, from Bangladesh and eastern India to Cambodia, Thailand, Sumatra, and Java. They inhabit a range of forested habitats, including deciduous, evergreen, and mixed forests, as well as open grasslands, savannas, and agricultural landscapes.

Despite their extensive range, Blue-throated Rollers have shown some variation in morphology and vocalizations across different regions.


The Blue-throated Roller is currently recognized as a monotypic species, which means that there are no recognized subspecies. However, some taxonomists have suggested that there may be some geographic variation in the color and size of Blue-throated Rollers across their range.

For example, birds from northern Thailand and Myanmar may have a darker blue head and less black on the throat than birds from southern Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia. In addition, birds from Indonesia may have a slightly longer tail and narrower bill than birds from mainland Southeast Asia.

Related Species

The Blue-throated Roller belongs to the genus Eurystomus, which includes four other species of rollers found in Africa and Asia. These species are the Indian Roller (E.

orientalis), Broad-billed Roller (E. glaucurus), Dollarbird (E.

azureus), and Racquet-tailed Roller (E. afer).

The Indian Roller is the closest relative to the Blue-throated Roller and is found in the same region of Asia. It is very similar in appearance to the Blue-throated Roller but has a more extensive blue area on the head and less black on the throat.

The Broad-billed Roller is found in forested areas of sub-Saharan Africa and has a broader and flatter bill than the Blue-throated Roller. The Dollarbird is found across Asia and Australia and has a prominent white patch on the wings and a broad blue crescent on the throat.

The Racquet-tailed Roller is found in forested areas of Africa and has an elongated central tail feather that gives it a distinct appearance.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The Blue-throated Roller has undergone significant changes in its distribution over time. It is believed that the species originated in southern India and Sri Lanka and then dispersed across Southeast Asia during different climatic periods.

During the last glacial maximum about 20,000 years ago, Southeast Asia was covered with extensive forests and was connected to the Asian mainland through land bridges. As the climate warmed and the sea level rose, the forests became fragmented, and birds were forced to adapt to different habitats and shift their ranges.

Recently, Blue-throated Rollers have shown signs of range expansion in some parts of their range. For example, in northern Thailand and Myanmar, where the species was previously only recorded in small numbers, it has become more widespread and common in recent years.

In contrast, in Peninsular Malaysia, where the species was once common, it has become increasingly rare due to habitat destruction and hunting.


In conclusion, the Blue-throated Roller is a fascinating bird that has captured the interest of scientists, bird watchers, and conservationists. Its distinctive appearance, behavior, and call make it a joy to observe in the wild.

Taxonomists have studied its systematics to understand its evolutionary history and diversification, and geographers have analyzed its geographical variation and distribution patterns. The Blue-throated Roller’s range has undergone significant changes over time, reflecting the dynamic processes of evolution and climate change.

Despite the challenges it faces from habitat loss and human activities, this magnificent bird has managed to persist in different regions of Southeast Asia, reminding us of the resilience and adaptability of nature.

Habitat of the Blue-throated Roller

The Blue-throated Roller is a bird species that is found in a range of habitats across Southeast Asia. They are adaptable birds and can inhabit both forests and more open areas.

However, they prefer to live in woodlands with large trees that provide healthy nesting locations and ample foraging sites. They are most abundant in deciduous and evergreen forests, but occasionally, they can be found in savannahs, plantations, and agricultural landscapes.

In Malaysia and Indonesia, they are known to inhabit oil palm and rubber estates, taking advantage of the ample insect population that thrives in these plantations. In Malaysia, Blue-throated Rollers can be found in undisturbed forested areas such as the Taman Negara National Park, Templer’s Park, and Bukit Fraser.

In Thailand, they are found in both lowland and mountainous forests, including the Khao Yai National Park and Doi Inthanon Park. The Blue-throated Rollers are also found in suitable habitats across Indonesia, Brunei, Myanmar and other countries in Southeast Asia.

Movements and Migration

Blue-throated Rollers are regular migrants, and their movements depend on the local weather and the availability of food. During the non-breeding season in Southeast Asia, the birds tend to move from mountainous areas to lowland areas to take advantage of the abundant insect population.

During this time, the birds are known to be solitary, having dispersed from their breeding territories.

The birds are also known to undertake long-distance migrations.

For instance, a population found in Thailand is known to travel to Myanmar and northern India for the winter season. In contrast, another population found in Indonesia is known to migrate from the islands of Bali and Java to the island of Flores.

The Blue-throated Roller population in Peninsular Malaysia was long believed to be entirely sedentary, meaning that birds did not migrate from one area to the other. However, recent developments show that this species is migratory even in this part of the world.

They are known to undertake short-distance movements between different habitats in peninsular Malaysia. For example, during the non-breeding season, a population of Blue-throated Rollers from Fraser Hill, Peninsular Malaysia, has been known to travel from the hill station to the Bukit Tinggi region in the west, where food is more abundant.

The migration of Blue-throated Rollers is influenced by a range of factors, including weather patterns, the presence of predators, and the availability of food resources. Due to climate change and an increase in human activities, there is concern that some populations of Blue-throated Rollers may be negatively impacted.


The Blue-throated Roller is an adaptable species of bird that can thrive in a range of habitats across Southeast Asia. They are most abundant in woodlands with large trees, where they can nest and find enough prey.

The migration of Blue-throated Rollers, on short and long distances, is an interesting aspect of their behavior. The birds undertake movements in response to changes in weather patterns, availability of food, and threats from predators.

However, due to the effects of climate change and human activities, the populations of Blue-throated Rollers are under threat in some parts of their range. Conservation efforts, including habitat protection and education programs, are necessary to ensure the survival of this magnificent bird species.

Diet and Foraging Behavior of the Blue-throated Roller


The Blue-throated Roller is an insectivorous bird that feeds on a wide variety of insects, including grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, and spiders. They forage primarily by sitting on exposed branches or perching on the ground while scanning the vegetation for prey.

They also may take prey in mid-air, especially during their aerial displays of courtship and territorial defense. The foraging behavior of Blue-throated Roller is known to change throughout different parts of their range, depending on the type of habitat they are inhabiting.

For example, in more open habitats, they are more likely to hunt from a more elevated perch, while in closed forests, they are more likely to forage on the ground for smaller insects.


The diet of Blue-throated Roller varies by season and geographic location. During the breeding season, the birds mainly feed on larger insects that provide more energy and nutrients, such as grasshoppers.

As the breeding season comes to an end, they switch to feed on smaller insects, such as caterpillars and beetles, especially when they migrate to the lowland areas in the non-breeding season. They are also known to be opportunistic feeders and may supplement their insect diet with small vertebrates such as reptiles, amphibians, and small birds.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

Rollers have high metabolic rates to meet their energetic requirements. When they are active, these birds can generate a lot of heat, leading to an increase in their body’s temperature.

However, they also have a mechanism of regulating their body temperature. The respiratory system helps to dissipate excess heat through the lungs, which allows them to maintain a stable body temperature.

The Blue-throated Roller is a diurnal bird, which means that it is most active during daylight hours. To regulate their body temperature, they may also expose themselves to direct sunlight to increase their body temperature.

Since Rollers inhabit the hot and humid tropical environments of Southeast Asia, thermoregulation is crucial for them to survive in these environments.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


Rollers are known for their distinctive calls, and the Blue-throated Roller is no exception. This bird has a loud and sharp ‘klaack’ or ‘kraa’ call, which is a repeated series of two to three notes.

They use this call to communicate with each other, establish territories, and attract mates. Aside from their calls, Blue-throated Rollers also have a range of other sounds, such as soft chattering and harsh screeching.

These sounds may be different depending on the context and function, and may even help to identify different individuals. Vocalizations play an essential role in the courtship and breeding behavior of Blue-throated Rollers.

During the breeding season, males perch in elevated positions and vocalize loudly, flashing their vibrant plumage to attract mates. Courtship displays involve the male bringing food to the female, and the two birds engage in aerial acrobatics.


The Blue-throated Roller is an insectivorous bird that feeds mainly on insects. They use their sharp vision to spot prey and feed primarily on the ground or from elevated perches.

During the breeding season, they alter their diet to larger insects that provide more energy and nutrients. They have a high metabolic rate, which compensates for their energetic requirements, and their respiratory systems help in thermoregulation.

They are also known for their distinctive calls, which help to communicate and identify individuals, and play an essential role in courtship and breeding behavior.

Behavior of the Blue-throated Roller


The Blue-throated Roller has an interesting locomotion system that makes it remarkable. They are a skillful bird that can fly fast, maneuver swiftly, and hover in the air.

When they are perched on a tree branch, they hop to find the best position to visually locate their prey. In addition, they use their powerful wings to generate lift and thrust, allowing them to fly through the air while searching for food.


The Blue-throated Roller takes care of its own cleanliness, mostly in the morning. They use their beak to preen their feathers and remove dirt or debris that may have accumulated while foraging.

They also sunbathe in the morning sunlight to disinfect their feathers, sanitizing their plumage and ensuring that they are free of any parasites.

Agonistic Behavior

Blue-throated Rollers are not generally aggressive in nature but may express some aggression during Territorial defense behaviors or competing for a mate. Their defensive behavior may include aerial acrobatics, vocalizing, and wing flapping as a display of their prowess to other birds.

Sexual Behavior

During the breeding season, male Blue-throated Rollers primordially act as displayers of their physique and vocalization to impress females and maintain their territories. Courtship between male and female is initiated by the male bird displaying his vibrant plumage, providing food for the female and partaking in aerial acrobatics.


The breeding season of Blue-throated Roller is between April and August, which varies depending on the geographic region of the bird. The birds construct their nest in a natural hole in a tree or a tree cavity, but have been known to use man-made structures, such as telephone poles or fence posts.

Both male and female Blue-throated Rollers take turns incubating the eggs and caring for the young chicks. The chicks fledge approximately 27 to 28 days after hatching.

Demography and Populations

The Blue-throated Roller has a broad range and is considered to be a species of least concern, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, parts of their range, such as Peninsular Malaysia, are experiencing a decrease in population due to habitat destruction and fragmentation.

Conservation oriented efforts regarding habitat conservation, public education programs, and research on their life cycle are necessary to maintain the population size and ensure the continuity of the Blue-throated Rollers.


Blue-throated Rollers have unique behaviors and lifestyle adaptations that make them fascinating subjects to study. They are a skilled bird, maneuvering through the air to locate prey, and take care of their cleanliness daily.

They defend their territories and may show aggression towards intruders during territorial disputes. The breeding season is a notable time of courtship, and their chicks are cared for by both parents until they have grown enough to fledge.

Though they are widespread, they still face the risk of population decline in some parts of their range, stressing the importance of conservation efforts and research to maintain their population size.

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