Hoopoe (Upupa epops
Hoopoe are small, 11" (28cm) birds, with diagnostic long crests with black tips that are frequently raised, like a fan. The crest, head, neck, mantle, breast and underparts are rufous-orange. Wings and tail are black and white. A long, thin, black, decurved bill.
Resident birds (Upupa epops africana
) are more richly coloured than the Eurasian visitors (U.e. waibeli
) to Kenya. The migrants also have a white subterminal band on the crest.
Females are smaller, with duller coloured underparts, whitish abdomens and streaked flanks. Habits
Hoopoe have a wavering, butterfly-like flight. Usings its short, strong legs, it can run quite fast, in jerky steps.
Hoopoe are very territorial and males fight to retain territory. Their long bills are used during ferocious fights, sometimes resulting in death. Males and females only team up for single clutches of eggs. They nest in tree crevices, earth banks or a variety of other crevices. Around 6 milky blue eggs are laid and the female alone incubates them and the male feeds her. Like Woodpeckers
, they do not remove debris from their nests, which end up being dirty, smelly affairs. Eggs hatch one at a time, after 15 days and the chicks are fed by both parents. The chicks fledge after a month and remain with the parents for a further week. Diet
Hoopoe eat caterpillars, worms, cicida, grubs and insects, using its long bill to probe the earth in a stitching motion to find them. Occasionally, they also eat seeds and small fruits. Resident
Resident Hoopoe are found all over Kenya, below 2,000 metres, while the migrant waibeli usually only visit the north of the country, down to Nairobi, during June - August. Usually only seen in bushed or wooded grasslands. Extra Hoopoe Facts
Hoopoe are of the family of birds named Upupidae and the only member of that family. Not to be confused with Wood-hoopoes
. There are nine sub-species of Hoopoe.
Hoopoe got their name from their calls "oo~poo~poo" or "hoop~hoop", depending on the sub-species.
Hoopoes are the national bird of Israel and were sacred in Ancient Egypt, being featured on the walls of tombs. Photographs
Photographed at Kenya's Nairobi National Park and Olare Orok Conservancy.