Family Rollers (Coraciidae)

Least Concern

Racquet-tailed Roller (Coracias spatulatus)


French: Rollier à raquettes German: Spatelracke Spanish: Carraca de raquetas
Other common names: Racket-tailed Roller

Coracias spatulatus


, 1880,

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe


Affinities uncertain; possibly closer to C. abyssinicus than to C. caudatus. Status of form weigalli disputed, the more so since birds of this species in Ruaha National Park (C Tanzania) have underparts entirely blue, as on nominate#R; has been thought to be merely half-moulted immature of present species, but other authors regard it as a valid, geographically distinct taxon; the two forms evidently hybridize over a significant area (c. 200 km wide) from S Tanzania through Malawi to C Mozambique. In S of range, size (wing length) increases clinally from E to W#R. Specific name frequently given as feminine, spatulata, but genus is masculine. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. s. spatulatus Trimen, 1880 – W Angola and NE Namibia (Caprivi Strip) E to W Tanzania and Mozambique (S of R Zambezi).
  • C. s. weigalli Dresser, 1890 – S Tanzania and N Mozambique (N of R Zambezi).
  • Descriptive notes

    28–30 cm (with streamers up to 8 cm more); 88–111 g. The smallest, lightest Coracias, with long tail and streamered outer rectrix with spoon-like tip.... read more


    Gives loud, puppy-like and very harsh "cha" or "tchek" calls, repeated by male... read more


    Undisturbed, mature Brachystegia (miombo), drier Colophospermum (mopane) and ... read more

    Food and feeding

    Locusts, grasshoppers, beetles, maggots, scorpions and small lizards. Forages by perching on mid-storey lookout, swooping down to take prey... read more


    Lays in Sept–Dec in Zambia and Zimbabwe, and Oct–Nov in Malawi, with various evidences of breeding from Angola in Sept–... read more


    Appears to be essentially sedentary, but locally nomadic, especially during extreme climatic events... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widespread and fairly common in Zambia and Zimbabwe; widespread but uncommon in Tanzania, N to Busondo and Kikore; uncommon to frequent but local in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fry, H. & Kirwan, G.M. (2018). Racquet-tailed Roller (Coracias spatulatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 11 December 2018).