Brachypteraciidae – Ground Rollers

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

Species Links
  • Long-tailed Ground-Roller Uratelornis chimaera

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Long-tailed Ground-Roller Uratelornis chimaera

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Uratelornis chimaera Rothschild, 1895, Madagascar.Monotypic.
  • Long-tailed Ground-Roller Uratelornis chimaera

    IUCN Species Status
  • Long-tailed Ground-Roller Uratelornis chimaera

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • 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.
  • Pitta-like Ground-Roller Atelornis pittoides

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Pitta-like Ground-Roller Atelornis pittoides

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Brachypteracias pittoides Lafresnaye, 1834, Madagascar. Monotypic.
  • Pitta-like Ground-Roller Atelornis pittoides

    IUCN Species Status
  • Pitta-like Ground-Roller Atelornis pittoides

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • 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.
  • 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

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Rufous-headed Ground-Roller Atelornis crossleyi

    IUCN Species Status
  • Rufous-headed Ground-Roller Atelornis crossleyi

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Atelornis crossleyi Sharpe, 1875, Ampasmonhavo, Madagascar. Monotypic.
  • Rufous-headed Ground-Roller Atelornis crossleyi

    BirdLife Species Account
  • 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

    IUCN Species Status
  • Scaly Ground-Roller Brachypteracias squamigera

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • 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.
  • Short-legged Ground-Roller Brachypteracias leptosomus

    BirdLife Species Account
  • Short-legged Ground-Roller Brachypteracias leptosomus

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Colaris leptosomus Lesson, 1833, Madagascar.Monotypic.
  • Short-legged Ground-Roller Brachypteracias leptosomus

    IUCN Species Status
  • Short-legged Ground-Roller Brachypteracias leptosomus

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • 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.
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 5

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