Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The Hoopoe

Hoopoe (Upupa epops)

The Hoopoe (Upupa epops)is the only living species of the family Upupidae.

Hoopoe (Upupa epops)

This remarkable bird is easily identified by its fan-shaped crest with the feathers increasing in length from front to back. It has a fawn coloured plumage, with the crest tipped with white and black. The crest can be lowered or raised freely.

Hoopoe (Upupa epops)

The back, shoulders and breast is also the same fawn colour. The back and the wings are banded with black and white. The tail is also banded across with a characteristic white shape.

Hoopoe (Upupa epops)

The iris is reddish brown and the beak black. Legs are a dull grey colour.

Hoopoe (Upupa epops)

This bird is widely distributed across Asia, Europe and Africa and a number of subspecies are recognized.

Hoopoe (Upupa epops)

The Hoopoe avoids thick forests and frequents open countryside, especially in thin scrub forests and outskirts of villages. It feeds entirely on the ground, probing for insects. It has the ability to open its bill even after it is inside the ground.

 Hoopoe (Upupa epops)

It methodically covers the open ground, walking and running while searching under grass or in crevices for insects. It is also known to feed on small reptiles, frogs and plant matter. Insects on the surface as well ass in the air have also known to be taken.

Hoopoe (Upupa epops)

Their song is a characteristic "oop-oop-oop", which gives them their name:

Hoopoe (Upupa epops)Hoopoe (Upupa epops)

The Hoopoe is monogamous although the bonding may only last for one season. They are also territorial. The breeding season extends between February to July.

Hoopoe (Upupa epops)

Nests are holes in trees, walls or roofs, the main requirement being darkness. The nest may be barely lines, with a rough collection of hair, leaves or feathers. Three to ten eggs may be laid.

Hoopoe (Upupa epops)

The female and the fledglings produces a foul smelling liquid from their uropygial gland, which resembles the smell of rotting meat. This is thought to deter predators as well as parasites. The female stays in the nest throughout the incubation and is fed by the male. The nest is never cleaned and the fledglings also direct streams of faeces at intruders. Together, all this makes the Hoopoe nest an offensive and smelly affair!

  Sighting Information:
Location: Kadagrahara, Sarjapur, Bangalore
Date: 27th March 2011
Time: Morning; 10:30 AM
Weather: Bright sunny morning
Other Details: At least 3 birds were seen with food in their beak, sitting on a rooftop, waiting to feed nestlings inside the nest in a tree, next to the house. I suspect there could have been more than one nest.

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