Hoop, hoop, hoopoe …

The Hoopoe - Upupa epops. Photo by myself.

The Hoopoe is an odd little bird. So named because of the characteristic whooping call it makes, this distinctive avian is the only species in its family, Upupidae.

Closely related to the kingfishers and bee-eaters, the hoopoe prefers lightly wooded areas and grasslands.

Hoopoes are good at defending themselves from predators, especially when the female is brooding. The uropygial gland of the brooding female and its nestlings produce a foul-smelling liquid, that smells like rotting meat. The stench keeps predators and parasites at bay. And, nestlings shoot streams of faeces and can hiss like snakes to scare off predators.

The Hoopoe is revered and is protected by law in several cultures, because its diet includes many agricultural pests. It is the national bird of Israel and the official state bird of Punjab.

The bird’s diet is largely composed of insects, worms and larvae. Typically, the Hoopoe forages on the ground. It has strong neck muscles and can bore holes into solid ground and pull out worms and grubs.

This Hoopoe was hammering furiously at the ground when I saw it at Banerghatta national park, in south Bangalore. He stood still long enough for me take this nice shot in the morning light.

Cheers … Srini.

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