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BirdNote®: What In The World Is A Hoopoe?

Air Date: Week of

The Hoopoe’s raised crest contributes to its distinctive appearance. (Photo: Nash Chou, Creative Commons)

The soft, modest hoots of the Hoopoe signal a bird so distinctive and fabled that it figures in mythologies of Arabic, Greek, Persian, Egyptian and other cultures. Birdnote’s Michael Stein has more about the bird as a cultural icon.



DOERING: From the epic migration of the Arctic Tern we take a look now at a far less ambitious migrant, the Hoopoe which travels between Britain in the summer and northern Africa in the winter. BirdNote’s Michael Stein has more about the bird as a cultural icon.


What in the World Is a Hoopoe?
Written by Bob Sundstrom
[Hoopoe song http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/6665, 0.44-.48]
These soft, modest hoots signal a bird so distinctive, so fabled, that it is hard to know where to begin its story. So, let's start with the bird's name, Hoopoe [pronounced HOO-poo] — or Hoopo — modeled on its song. [Hoopoe song http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/6665, 0.44-.48]
Its scientific title, too, comes from those mellow hoots: Upupa epops. 
Hoopoes are also the only extant members of a unique family of birds: Upupidae [pr: oo-POO-puh-dee] And it's a crazy looking bird: jay-sized, with a long bill like a sandpiper’s. The Hoopoe's head and breast are buffy pink, with a crest it can raise like an Indian headdress. It flies on rounded, boldly zebra-striped wings, fluttering unevenly like a giant butterfly.

The Hoopoe belongs to a unique family of birds that has no other surviving species. (Photo: PeiWen Chang, Creative Commons)

It’s a bird so peculiar — and found through much of the Old World — that it’s caught the eye of humans for eons. The Hoopoe figures in mythologies of Arabic, Greek, Persian, Egyptian, and other cultures. But the bird's fame hasn't gone to its head. In all its oddity, the humble Hoopoe carries on with a minimum of fuss — nesting in tree cavities in Europe and Asia, migrating to the warmth of Africa in winter. [Hoopoe song http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/6665, 0.44-.48]
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Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by M. North.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org  September 2018 / 2020    Narrator: Michael Stein
ID #: EHOO-01-2015-09-17EHOO-01


DOERING: For pictures of the unusual Hoopoe migrate on over to the Living on Earth website, LOE dot org.



This story on the BirdNote® website

Watch a Hoopoe parent feeding its chick

The Hoopoe was mentioned in the Quran


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