Birds of Morni: Indian Roller

Indian Roller/ Neelkanth (Coracias benghalensis) is over a foot in size with a blue-green/ turquoise blue crown, lower wings and vent. The tail is sky blue. The back and abdomen is gray-brown. The beak is long and curved with a hooked tip. It is found perched on bare trees or overhead wires in cultivated areas and light scrub. It feeds largely on ground insects- beetles, grassgoppers, crickets as well as moths, frogs and small-reptiles. It often preys on insects attracted to light in the evenings. It nests in holes in trees often occupying holes created by wood-peckers etc.Traditionally a captive neelkanth was released by the king at Dussera and it was considered auspicious to spot the bird. Neelkanth literally means blue-throat, the name given to Lord Shiva whose throat turned blue after he drank the poison churned up from the water of the oceans.  A decline in the numbers of the bird has been noticed of late.

Indian Roller at Belwali, Morni foothills (July, 2012)
Indian Roller at Belwali (July, 2012)