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Eurasian Hoopoe » Features, Feeding and Reproduction

The Hoopoe is a rare bird, very striking and beautiful in appearance; but at the same time dirty in habit. Its scientific name is Upupa Epops and it belongs to the group of Bucerotiformes.

Special features of the Hoopoe

The most striking feature of this rare bird is its unmistakable appearance. The Eurasian Hoopoe Bird has a reddish or cinnamon-colored plumage and its wings and tails are broadly striped, alternating between black and white.

Also striking is a ridge that runs from the base of its beak to the back of its head. The crest feathers end in a white band with black tips.

There is not much difference between male and female specimens. In fact, the only obvious difference is that the females’ plumage is less conspicuous.

The Hoopoe is between 25 and 29 centimeters long and weighs approximately 70 kilograms.

Thanks to the wingspan, its flight is serpentine, similar to that of a butterfly. Its wings also help it to change direction instantly when it is flying at high altitude.

Its beak also gives it a distinctive appearance, as it is long, thin and arched downwards.

The Hoopoe’s gaze is deep and intimidating, and her completely dark eyes contribute to this.

The hoopoe emits a peculiar pigeon-like sound and its song is loud and far reaching.

Related to its behavior is the fact that hoopoes do not bathe in water but prefer sand.

Researchers also point out that there are two types of hoopoe birds. One can be very shy and easily scared, so they fly away immediately when they see human beings.

The others are very communicative, go deep, stay in human populations, and get used to them.

An additional detail about this bird is that its nest smells very bad, why? The bird has oil glands from which it emanates a stench and also does not clean the nest to remove the droppings.

What is their habitat?

The natural habitat of this rare animal is related to dry areas, light wooded areas and fruit trees. Geographically, this bird is native to South Asia, Africa and some parts of Europe.

How is the Hoopoe feeding?

In spite of its beautiful appearance, the Hoopoe is a little dirty, although it should be made clear that by this we do not mean that it is a scavenger or predatory bird.

Its “problem” is that it feeds on insects that it gets by exploring with its beak not only the soil, but also manure and other dirt.

Among the insects it consumes are ants, worms, flies, beetles, crickets, butterflies and worms.

Once it has located its food, it pecks at it, throws it into the air and finally captures it with impressive skill.

How do Hoopoes reproduce?

The hoopoe is a monogamous bird, so every time the mating season arrives the couples meet and nest again in the same place.

The female begins to be in season in April and it is at this precise moment when the males are in charge of looking for the nest they used in the previous mating in order to incubate their young.

Once the mating has taken place, it is common for the female to lay between 5 and 8 eggs which she will incubate in the month of June.

During this process the mother stays permanently in the nest while the male remains vigilant for dangers that may affect the female and the young. But not only this, she also takes charge of searching for food.

As part of her work, some males have been seen carrying manure from other animals into their nest, which as a result causes a foul smell.

It is believed that the father does this to scare off possible predators who will not put up with such a foul smell. Of course, they can.

Once the eggs hatch they will be fed mainly by the male who will provide them with insects. A few days later both parents will take over this task.

However, 10 days after they hatch the young will be ready to feed themselves. After about 3 or 4 weeks they will leave the nest to lead an independent life.

Predators of this strange yet beautiful bird

When the nestlings are in the nest they can become victims of snakes and weasels that do not care about the nauseating smell of the nest.

As soon as they are adults, hoopoes can fall prey to larger birds such as hawks, goshawks, hobby, Iberian Imperial Eagle, golden eagle, sparrowhawk, red kite, and others.