Wild Birds

Ground Rollers

Ground Rollers (Brachypteraciidae)

The Ground Rollers (Brachypteraciidae) combine a small family of non-migratory birds that are only found on the island of Madagascar located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa.

Its members are related to the kingfishers, bee-eaters, and rollers; and some consider the Ground Rollers to be a subfamily of the true rollers.

Ground Rollers into the Woods
Ground Rollers into the Woods


This crow-like range from 25-49 centimeters in length. They are less colorful than the true rollers, with either striped or flecked plumages. They also have longer legs and shorter, more rounded wings.

They lack the highly colorful appearance of the true rollers, and are duller in appearance, with striped or flecked plumage. They are much more elusive and shy than their relatives and are normally difficult to find in the Malagasy forests.

Nesting / Breeding

Breeding Ground Rollers usually remain as solitary pairs, nesting in holes in the ground which they excavate themselves.

Diet / Feeding

They feed on reptiles and large insects.

Calls / Vocalizations

They display (breeding) calls that are described as hooting sounds.

Ground Rollers Resting
Ground Roller Resting

Genera and Subspecies

  • Genus Brachypteracias
    • Short-legged Ground Roller, Brachypteracias leptosome
  • Genus Geobiastes
    • Scaly Ground Roller, Geobiastes squamiger
  • Genus Uratelornis
    • Long-tailed Ground Roller, Uratelornis chimaera
  • Genus Atelornis
    • Pitta-like Ground Roller, Atelornis pittoides
    • Rufous-headed Ground Roller, Atelornis crossleyi

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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