Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory

<I>Eurystomus orientalis</I>

Eurystomus orientalis


Regional Maps


Compiler and date details

R. Schodde & I.J. Mason, CSIRO Australian National Wildlife Collection, Canberra, Australia


Coraciidae (true rollers) comprise about 11–13 species in two genera; one species occurs in Australia. There is as yet no fossil record for Australia. Like Meropidae, rollers are centred in the Palaeotropics, from Africa through southern Eurasia to Indonesia.

Rollers are perching birds that are usually rather solitary and fly acrobatically from high exposed perches in wide sweeps and convolutions both in display and to capture insects and other small animals on wing (Eurystomus Vieillot, 1816) or often from ground (Coracias Linnaeus, 1758). Nests are in unlined holes in trees and banks; eggs are plain-white and ovoid; and young are altricial, nidicolous, and become spiny because developing feathers long retain their horny sheaths; nidificational duties are shared by both sexes.

Family-group Systematics

Although at times combined with the closely allied ground rollers, Brachyteraciidae Bonaparte, 1854, and Madagascan cuckoo-roller, Leptosomidae Blyth, 1838 (e.g. Sharpe 1892; Peters 1945; Mayr & Amadon 1951), the true rollers (Coraciidae Rafinesque, 1815) are separated at family level here, following Cracraft (1971). This arrangement is supported by Stresemann (1927–1934), Wetmore (1960), Wolters (1975–1982), Maurer & Raikow (1981), Burton (1984), Sibley et al. (1988) and Sibley & Ahlquist (1990). Even so, the status of these groups does not appear to be well settled.

Genus-group Systematics

Eurystomus Vieillot, 1816—Circumscription of aerial-feeding Eurystomus Vieillot, 1816, with three or four species, has been settled since Sharpe (1892). The validity and value of subgenera in so small and compact a group is uncertain, cf. Wolters (1975–1982); they are not used here.

Species-group Systematics

Eurystomus orientalis (Linnaeus, 1766)—Specific limits have been clarified by the revisions of Stresemann (1913), Boetticher (1936), Ripley (1942), Mees (1965) and Scholtes in White & Bruce (1986); but the status of subspecies in the Indonesian archipelagos is not so settled. Australian E. o. pacificus (Latham, 1802), nevertheless, is distinct in its pallid toning, disproportionally short tail and rather more pointed wings adapted for migration.


Excluded Taxa

Vagrant Species

CORACIIDAE: Coracias garrulus Linnaeus, 1758 [European Roller]



Stout, medium-sized, blue-, green- and sometimes chestnut-tinted birds with broad heads, tapering to blunt tails, and thick slightly hooked bills with slit-like nostrils; body feathering rather coarse, in defined tracts; aftershafts moderately developed; uropygial gland naked, flattened. Feet small, anisodactylous; short tarsi coarsely scutellate on acrotarsia, and all three forward toes basally syndactylous to first joint. Sexes alike. Wings rounded but long: 10 primaries plus remicle, moulting in unconfirmed sequence, and 12 diastataxic secondaries; tail short: 12 rectrices, moulting in unconfirmed sequence. Nares holorhinal/amphirhinal, impervious, nasal septum imperforate; desmognathous palate heavily braced for crushing, with very narrow vomer, long broadly round-winged palatines, and lachrymals greatly expanded to reach small spur-like ectethmoids and jugal bars; basipterygoid processes rudimentary or absent; cervical vertebrae 13–14; sternum deeply two-notched on each side, only spina externa present, furcula without hypocleideum. Musculus expansor secundariorum fully developed but no biceps slip; pelvic muscle formula AXY, no M. ambiens, deep plantar tendons Type V and complexly fused. Carotid arteries paired. Syrinx tracheo-bronchial with one pair of intrinsic muscles. Tongue narrow without fringe at base; no crop; caeca present, elongated. Diploid karyotype of 70–90 chromosomes, with three to six pairs of macrochromosomes.


General References

Boetticher, H. von 1936. Rolliers et Eurystomes. Oiseau et la Revue Française d'Ornithologie 6: 422-434

Burton, P.J.K. 1984. Anatomy and evolution of the feeding apparatus in the avian orders Coraciiformes and Piciformes. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Zoology 47: 331-443

Cracraft, J. 1971. The relationships and evolution of the rollers: families Coraciidae, Brachypteraciidae, and Leptosomatidae. Auk 88: 723-752

Dresser, H.E. 1893. A Monograph of the Coraciidae, or family of the Rollers. Farnborough : H.E. Dresser xx 111 pp. 27 pls.

Lowe, P.R. 1948. What are the Coraciiformes? Ibis 90: 572-582

Maurer, D.R. & Raikow, R.J. 1981. Appendicular myology, phylogeny, and classification of the avian order Coraciiformes (including Trogoniformes). Annals of the Carnegie Museum 50: 417-434

Mayr, E. & Amadon, D. 1951. A classification of recent birds. American Museum Novitates 1496: 1-42

Mees, G.F. 1965. The avifauna of Misool. Nova Guinea (Zoologie) 31: 139-203

Peters, J.L. 1945. Check-list of Birds of the World. Cambridge : Harvard University Press Vol. 5 xi 306 pp.

Ripley, S.D. 1942. The species Eurystomus orientalis. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 55: 169-176

Sharpe, R.B. 1871. On the Coraciidae of the Ethiopian region. Ibis 3 1: 184-203, 270-289

Sharpe, R.B. 1892. Catalogue of the Birds in the British Museum. Catalogue of the Picariae. Coraciae (contin.) and Halcyones. London : British Museum Vol. 17 xi 522 pp. XVII pls.

Sibley, C.G., Ahlquist, J.E. & Monroe, B.L., Jr 1988. A classification of living birds of the world based on DNA-DNA hybridization studies. Auk 105: 409-423

Sibley, C.G. & Ahlquist, J.E. 1990. Phylogeny and Classification of Birds. A Study in Molecular Evolution. New Haven : Yale University Press xxiii 976 pp.

Streseman, E. 1927. Sauropsida: Aves. pp. in Kükenthal, W. & Krumbach, Th. (eds). Handbuch der Zoologie. Eine Naturgeschichte der Stämme des Tiereiches. Berlin : W. de Gruyter Bd 7, Hft 2 xi 899 pp. [Date published 1927–1934]

Stresemann, E. 1913. Ornithologische Miszellen aus dem indo-australischen Gebiet. II Teil. Novitates Zoologicae 20: 289-324

Thiollay, J.-M. 1971. Les guêpiers et rolliers d'une zone de contact savane-forêt en Côte d'Ivoire. Oiseau et la Revue Française d'Ornithologie 41: 148-162

Wetmore, A. 1960. A classification for the birds of the world. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 139(11): 1-37

White, C.M.N. & Bruce, M.D. 1986. The Birds of Wallacea (Sulawesi, the Moluccas & Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia). An annotated check-list. B.O.U. Check-list No. 7. London : British Ornithologists' Union 524 pp.

Wolters, H.E. 1975–1982. Die Vogelarten der Erde. Eine systematische Liste mit Verbreitungsangaben sowie deutschen und englischen Namen. Hamburg : Paul Parey xx 745 pp.


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
10-Nov-2020 AVES 10-Nov-2020 MODIFIED
10-Nov-2015 CORACIIDAE 28-Feb-2020 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)