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Brachypteraciidae

Ground-Roller
Scaly Ground-Roller Brachypteracias squamigera ©Jonathan Roussouw Website

The Brachypteraciidae or Ground Rollers are a small family of non-migratory near-passerine birds restricted to Madagascar. They are related to the kingfishers, bee-eaters and rollers. They most resemble the latter group, and are sometimes considered a sub-family of the true rollers.

Ground rollers share the generally crow-like size and build of the true rollers, ranging from 25 to 49 centimetres in length. They also hunt reptiles and large insects. They are more terrestrial than the Coracidae species, and this is reflected in their longer legs and shorter, more rounded wings.

They lack the highly colourful 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. Often the hooting breeding call is all that betrays their presence.

They nest as solitary pairs in holes in the ground which they excavate themselves, unlike the true rollers, which rarely nest in ground holes and even then do not dig their own nests.

There are just five species of Ground Roller in the family Brachypteraciidae, all endemic to the island of Madagascar; they are:

Short-legged Ground-Roller Brachypteracias leptosomus
Scaly Ground-Roller Brachypteracias squamigera

Pitta-like Ground-Roller Atelornis pittoides
Rufous-headed Ground-Roller Atelornis crossleyi

Long-tailed Ground-Roller Uratelornis chimaera

Family Links

Ground Rollers Brachypteraciidae

Family Account

The ground rollers are a small family of non-migratory near-passerine birds restricted to Madagascar. They are related to the kingfishers, bee-eaters and rollers. They most resemble the latter group, and are sometimes considered a sub-family of the true rollers.

Ground Rollers Brachypteraciidae

HBW Family Account

Annotated species list

Ground Rollers Brachypteraciidae

Family Account

The Ground-Rollers are a unique family of five distinctive species found only in Madagascar. Four of them occur in the rainforest of the eastern escarpment; the fifth is found only in the spiny deserts of the southwest.

Species Links

Long-tailed Ground-Roller Uratelornis chimaera

BirdLife Species Account

Long-tailed Ground-Roller Uratelornis chimaera

Species Account

The long-tailed ground roller (Uratelornis chimaera) is a species of bird in the ground roller family Brachypteraciidae, placed in the monotypic genus Uratelornis. Endemic to arid spiny forests near the coast in southwestern Madagascar, this ground roller occurs at extremely low population densities throughout its habitat.

Long-tailed Ground-Roller Uratelornis chimaera

IUCN Species Status

Long-tailed Ground-Roller Uratelornis chimaera

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Uratelornis chimaera Rothschild, 1895, Madagascar. Monotypic.

Long-tailed Ground-Roller Uratelornis chimaera

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Pitta-like Ground-Roller Atelornis pittoides

IUCN Species Status

Pitta-like Ground-Roller Atelornis pittoides

BirdLife Species Account

Pitta-like Ground-Roller Atelornis pittoides

Species Account

The pitta-like ground roller (Atelornis pittoides) is a species of bird in the Brachypteraciidae family. It is endemic to Madagascar.

Pitta-like Ground-Roller Atelornis pittoides

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Brachypteracias pittoides Lafresnaye, 1834, Madagascar. Monotypic.

Pitta-like Ground-Roller Atelornis pittoides

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Rufous-headed Ground-Roller Atelornis crossleyi

BirdLife Species Account

Rufous-headed Ground-Roller Atelornis crossleyi

Species Account

The rufous-headed ground roller (Atelornis crossleyi) is a species of bird in the Brachypteraciidae family. It is endemic to Madagascar.

Rufous-headed Ground-Roller Atelornis crossleyi

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Atelornis crossleyi Sharpe, 1875, Ampasmonhavo, Madagascar. Monotypic.

Rufous-headed Ground-Roller Atelornis crossleyi

IUCN Species Status

Rufous-headed Ground-Roller Atelornis crossleyi

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Scaly Ground-Roller Brachypteracias squamigera

IUCN Species Status

Scaly Ground-Roller Brachypteracias squamigera

Species Account

The scaly ground roller (Geobiastes squamiger) is a species of bird in a monotypic genus in the Brachypteraciidae family. It is endemic to Madagascar. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Scaly Ground-Roller Brachypteracias squamigera

BirdLife Species Account

Scaly Ground-Roller Brachypteracias squamigera

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Brachypteracias squamigera Lafresnaye, 1838, Madagascar. Monotypic.

Scaly Ground-Roller Brachypteracias squamigera

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Short-legged Ground-Roller Brachypteracias leptosomus

BirdLife Species Account

Short-legged Ground-Roller Brachypteracias leptosomus

IUCN Species Status

Short-legged Ground-Roller Brachypteracias leptosomus

Species Account

The short-legged ground roller (Brachypteracias leptosomus) is a species of bird in the Brachypteraciidae family. It is endemic to Madagascar.

Short-legged Ground-Roller Brachypteracias leptosomus

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Colaris leptosomus Lesson, 1833, Madagascar. Monotypic.

Short-legged Ground-Roller Brachypteracias leptosomus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 5