The African Hoopoe is a species of hoopoe in the family Upupidae, a subspecies (Upupa epops africana) of the hoopoe. Its repetitive “hooo-pooo” is sung 5 times or more hence its name.
Not a particularly sociable bird, it is generally found singly or in pairs and is widely distributed throughout South Africa, favouring
open and bushy areas, thornveld and riverine woodlands in dry areas.
The African Hoopoe has the average size of 25 to 29 cm, with a wingspan of 44 to 48 cm. The weight varies from 38 to 67g when
It has a crown, also called a crest, which is chestnut coloured with black on the tips. This crown will raise when the bird has been disturbed. No eye rings or stripes are present and the bill is long, dark, narrow and slightly down curved.
The male and female are different colours. The male is typically fully chestnut coloured, whereas the female has a greyer body.
Both have black and white stripes on their wings and a rounded tail. This black and white striped pattern leads to a V-formation on their backs. The juveniles are coloured similarly to females except they have shorter beaks. In adults the beaks are about the same size as the head.
When these birds are in flight, they flap between 4 to 5 beats, then pause in which their body drops, and then continue to
beat their wings 4 to 5 times. When in the air, you’ll notice the same black and white striping on the wings and tail on their
underside as when they are perched.
Hoopoes consume small amounts of seeds and berries but prefer insects and small reptiles which they dart around at
ground level collecting.
The Hoopoe is a cavity nester (tree holes) or use a hollow in a pile of boulders or cavities in buildings, always chosen and
protected by the male. They lay from four to seven eggs over a few days.
Once she has finished laying all her eggs, the female alone will incubate the eggs for 14-16 days. Once hatched, the male
does the hunting for the chicks for the first week of their lives and then the female gets involved in the feeding of her young.