Before I start this post I need to state upfront that none of my photos have been photoshopped. I actually had an online ”argument” with a woman when I first posted some photos of today’s national bird – she insisted,  it was color corrected.  Fortunately a slew of other viewers let her know they also had seen this spectacular bird and would vouch for the colors.


Kenya boasts over 1000 species of birds. The lilac-breasted roller is Kenya’s national bird because of the wide array of colors. It has  8 colours: green, white, black, yellow, turquoise, dark blue, reddish-brown, and lilac. The colors represent many different tribes that make up Kenya’s community. It is a beautiful reference to the rich diversity  within Kenya.

The roller bird family is a species  named for its  performance of aerial acrobatics in flight. This consists of side-to-side rolling motions and fast dives from high elevation. This  display occurs when the rollers are in courtship or during territorial fights. If their courtship displays are successful, they will breed while in flight!

Photos don’t do justice to the stunning splash of colors on the lilac breasted roller- depending on the light and background these birds are a kaleidoscope of bright hues:



Most of my experiences with this most recognizable member of the pheasant family took place in zoos or on the grounds of large estates in Italy.  Not only was it a thrill to see these magnificent birds in India guarding the gardens of former palaces of maharajas,  but  to  see them in their natural forest habitat was a real head turner.  Imagine looking up a tree and seeing this:

On on the forest floor:

Or as delicately jewel encrusted mosaic frescoes on the walls of the Mor Chowk (Peacock Courtyard) inside the Udaipur, Rajasthan City Palace.

Although known as “peacock,”. the species is actually called “peafowl, and the colorful males with their spectacular tails are the peacock, while the decidedly drab females are peahens:

They may seem drab to us humans, but the peahens are undoubtedly a prize and the peacock puts considerable effort into wooing one. Now this courtship display is not just about flashing colors – it is the shaking and vibrating of the many eyespots of the peacock’s tail that wins the peahens ardor. The peacock’s tail vibrates at an incredible frequency of 26 beats per second and can last for more than 25 minutes. This repetitive motion actually hypnotizes the peahen and interestingly while the iridescent background are flashing in its side to side movement, the eyespots themselves barely move. “Look into my eyes” indeed!  .

Here are a few more pics I took:

I will tell you that the peacock is particularly protective of its mate,  The one below eyed me constantly and despite using a zoom lens to keep distance, at some point that enough was enough and chased me away.

I wasn’t going to argue with him.




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