Lilac Breasted Roller

Purple Ball of Fluff

This lilac breasted roller was my very first coloured pencil bird art since I’ve started my art journey. (I’ve also mentioned her in my previous article titled “Practice Birds”.) While scrolling through Instagram for inspiration, I had to pinch myself because she looked more like a stuffed toy than an actual bird! Praveen Siddannavar had captured her so beautifully lit and perfectly perched that his image had gone viral and illustrated many times.

It was during this illustration that I learned something about myself. I learned that I was hooked on colours and could not get enough of birds! What started out by chance had now opened my eyes, mind, and heart to endless possibilities and opportunities and now I am able to create my own happy.


Lilac breasted rollers are a part of the roller species and are named for their rolling dives during courtship or when being territorial. They can be found mostly in the southern and eastern parts of Africa, preferring open woodland and savanna over cityscape. Perched on tall posts and trees, they keep a watchful eye for food. Their diet consists mostly of insects, millipedes, lizards, scorpions, spiders, snails, small birds, and rodents. With a flamboyant robe fit for royalty, especially when in flight, the adults have two long tail feathers that distinguish them from the juveniles. The male and female are very similar, except the male may be slightly larger.

Bird Life International classifies lilac breasted rollers as “least concern” for conservation efforts. However, even though these birds have a stable population, habitat preservation would help maintain this species because they are found in protected areas and not in the city.


Praveen is an engineer by profession and a natural history photographer by choice. In 2009, he took his childhood love for nature seriously and began narrating his stories alongside his wildlife images. He believes his purpose is to bring awareness to animal and environmental conservation. Praveen continues to travel extensively to document and share his reports, especially on endangered species such as tigers, leopards, wild dogs, and birds. His images and stories have been published in leading wildlife magazines as well as exhibited at national and international art galleries in London, New York, Portugal, Iraq, Dubai, and India. He has also won several awards and recognition for his work, is one of the founding members of the Indian Wildlife Conservation Trust (IWCT), and currently holds the position of Vice President at IWCT. He can be reached by email at or followed on his Facebook or Instagram. For more information, please click here for his self-bio.

Materials used: Faber-Castell Polychromos in Canson ArtBook

This image is not for sale. Please contact me for commissions if you are interested, or please visit my wildlife gallery. Thank you!

This image is not for sale. Please contact me for commissions if you are interested, or please visit my wildlife gallery. Thank you!

Mel Unger