European roller

(Coracias garrulus)
Migratory bird. It breeds in Paggaio and overwinters in sub-Saharan Africa.
Sophia Siggiridou_Kostas Vidakis, MSc

Distribution of the species

The local breeding population of 6–12 pairs falls between the 2% and 12% of the national population (200–500 pairs). The conservation status of the local population, which is not isolated within its wider distribution range, is considered good. It is found both on the south-southwest side of Paggaio in rural areas with hedgerows and scattered mature trees where it nests, and on the north side, in rural ecosystems with hedgerows and gorges that create suitable nesting sites.

Description of the species (biological and ecological features)

Stocky, like a crow, but smaller. Cute and colorful like the kingfisher and the bee-eater. Light blue with a green tinge, brown back, large head and strong black curved beak. Talkative and noisy. The male’s nuptial display includes stunts with elaborate spins, dives and turns. The chick is bathed with a foul-smelling orange liquid when it senses a predator approaching, in order to prevent it. The smell also acts as a warning sign for parents.

Migratory bird. It breeds in Paggaio and overwinters in sub-Saharan Africa. A bird of warm areas, it is found in dry open areas up to 1,000 m. Altitude. Uses rural areas with arboriculture. It nests in holes in trees, buildings or street slopes. It catches its prey in flight, but also while waiting from a post, high in trees or power lines. Insectivorous, it feeds mainly on large insects such as beetles and locusts. It also consumes small reptiles, amphibians and rodents.

The main threat for the species is the expansion and intensification of agriculture in combination with the abandonment of traditional agricultural practices and land uses, including extensive agriculture and animal husbandry, resulting in extensive crops with scattered trees being converted into open intensive crops, thus reducing the availability of suitable nest sites. Destruction of the riparian vegetation also has the same negative effects. Extensive use of agrochemicals in crops reduces food availability, resulting in a decrease in the species’ populations. The species is also exposed to poaching during migration.

Conservation status

Listed as Vulnerable in Greece by the Greek Red Data Book.

Conservation state

Protected under the 2009/147/EU Directive (Annex I) and the Bern (Appendix I) and Bonn Conventions (Appendices I and II). Listed as Vulnerable in Greece by the Greek Red Data Book and as Least Concern in Europe by the IUCN. Also assigned to SPEC2 category (European species of conservation concern) by BirdLife International.