Hoopoe (Upupa epops)

The Hoopoe is also known by “Upupa epops”. ‘Upupa’ and ‘epops’ are the Latin and Ancient Greek names for this species.

Hoopoes are a regular passage migrant to the UK, usually during spring and autumn, with approximately 100 birds visiting each year. They are usually seen along the south and east coasts of England, but can appear anywhere.

Appearance

An exotic looking bird that is the size of a mistle thrush, weighing from 47 to 87g. The hoopoe has has a pinkish-brown body, measuring 26 – 28 cm in length. It has striking black and white striped wings measuring a wingspan of 42 – 46cm. When in flight, the wings are broad and rounded. The tail is black with a broad white band. Juveniles are duller with off-white wing bars.

The hoopoe also has a long pinkish-brown crest which it raises when excited, and when landing the crest is usually raised into a fan-shape for a brief moment.

Additionally, the hoopoe has a long blackish, down-curved bill, around 5 cm in length, and grey legs.

Serin upper and lower parts

The hoopoe feathers

Habitat and Nesting

The hoopoe doesn’t tend to breed in the UK, however, around 100 birds can arrive during the spring on an annual basis. When seen, normally on their own, these birds are migrating north to Europe from Africa, landing on the south coast of England.

Typically the hoopoe arrives in the UK in late April and May, although they can be spotted annually in the south-west in March. You may also spot a hoopoe in the autumn between August and October.

In other parts of the world, hoopoes are widespread in Europe, Asia, and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and even Madagascar. Most European and north Asian hoopoes migrate to the tropics in winter.

Breeding

Hoopoes have been known to breed in southern England during warm, dry summers particularly as it provides plenty of grasshoppers and similar insects to eat. However, around 20 hoopoes have bred in Britain in the last 200 years! It was reported in the 1980s that the northern European populations of hoopoe were in the decline, possibly due to the change in climate.

Hoopoes like to nest in vertical surfaces with cavities, for example cliffs, trees or even walls. The nest is lined with plants, feathers and wool etc, however, haystacks and nest boxes also make the perfect place for nesting.

Hoopoe eggs are smooth, non-glossy and measure 26 mm by 18 mm. They vary in colour and can be greyish, yellowish, greenish or brownish. Incubation is by the female hoopoe only, however, the young are fed by both parents.

Voice

The song of a hoopoe is a soft, resonant “hoo-hoo-hoo”

Diet

The hoopoe tends to hunt for food singularly, looking for bare or lightly vegetated ground on which to forage. Its core diet is made up of insects, spiders, frogs and plant matter such as seeds, which it gets from probing the ground with the full length of its bill. Sometimes berries will be consumed.

Try the interactive Hoopoe

Attract Hoopoes with the following food

Premium Suet Balls

Our premium suet balls each contain over 90g of high grade, quality beef suet, blended with wheat, peanuts and dried mealworms.

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Ultiva® Gold Seed Mix

This hugely popular bird seed mix has been at the forefront of GardenBird for many years. A top seller, the inspiration came from a missing link in the bird food chain – a blend focused on oil-rich ingredients.

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Ultiva® High Protein Insect Mix

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