The cinnamon roller is 29–30 cm in length. It has a warm back and head, lilac foreneck and breast, with the rest of the plumage mainly brown. The broad bill is bright yellow. Sexes are similar, but the juvenile is a drabber version of the adult, with a pale breast. Cinnamon roller is striking in its strong direct flight, with the brilliant blues of the wings and tail contrasting with the brown back.
This is a species of open woodland with some tall trees, preferably near water. These rollers often perch prominently on trees, posts or overhead wires, like giant shrikes. They are inactive for most of the day, apart from chasing intruders, but in late afternoon they hunt for the swarming ants and termites on which they feed, sometimes in groups of 100 or more rollers. They drink like swallows, dipping their bills into water in flight.
This bird nests in an unlined hole in a tree cavity, laying 2-3 eggs. The call of cinnamon roller is a snarling k-k-k-k-k-r-r-r-r-r sound.