The European Roller is a species that is regularly on the ‘wanted list’ of birders visiting Portugal and it is one that we are always happy to try and show them. The total population here has been estimated at no more than 100-300 pairs but they are not so difficult to find...if you know where to start looking!
Unfortunately, Rollers are in decline, classified by BirdLife/IUCN as ‘Vulnerable’ in Europe and ‘Near Threatened’ globally. They are especially sensitive to changes in farming practices, including the resultant loss of habitat, and with a diet that consists mainly of large insects, small rodents and lizards, the widespread and increased use of pesticides has been a particular problem. They also, of course, face the usual hazards that affect all trans-Saharan migrants.
Rollers are popular not only with birders but also with farmers and landowners; it is a large (Jackdaw-sized), brightly-coloured bird that perches conspicuously and has a characteristic display flight that is not unlike that of a Northern Lapwing. They are simply nice birds to have around.
These are birds that nest in holes and cavities and among the steps being taken to help them is the provision of nest-boxes and other artificial sites.
2 weeks ago