Hoopoe: a bird with an unforgettable appearance


Probably the first impressions that can be obtained from meeting with this representative of the world of birds - a mixture of funny and beautiful! Hoopoe - the bird is very elegant. With its bright colors and very clear black and white wing pattern, it will amaze not only the casual observer, but also the ornithologist-connoisseur.

The species belongs to the family of the hoaxe, widely distributed throughout the Palaearctic, often seen by people of Spain and North Africa.

Several so-called subspecies of the genus have been described:

  • Upupaindica, a resident of India and Ceylon.
  • Upupalongirostris, which, apparently, is a form of Indochinese countries.
  • Upupamarginata, peculiar to Madagascar.
  • Upupaafricana or minor, which lives in South Africa: to the Zambezi in the east and on the west coast of Bengal.

Usually in appearance they are all very similar, have minor differences.

Bird hoopoe: description

Bird has small sizes. Its body rarely reaches 30 cm in length. It is easily recognized by the black with white stripes of feathering of the wings and tail, as well as the topknot and a long thin beak, slightly curved down. The head, neck and breast are colored orange with a red tint, the belly has a lighter tone. The more brightly colored the bird is, the older it is. Males and females are practically the same.

The business card of the species is a long mobile tuft on the head, consisting of two reddish-colored feathers with a black edge on the end. When landing this representative of birds, he reveals a fan.

Now you know what the hoopoe bird looks like.


This species is very widespread in Europe (its representatives are its regular residents), as well as in Siberia, Asia and North Africa. Also found in Madagascar and sub-Saharan Africa.

Hoopoe - migratory bird. Living in the summer mainly in Europe and North Asia, in the fall this bird usually flies to winter to the south, to tropical zones. Most often, hoopoe migrates to equatorial Africa and India, although it sometimes lives all year in China and Northeast Africa.

Usually the bird is located where there is an open area, spending a lot of time on the ground itself. The hoopoe has rather weak wings, but it is capable of a significant long flight, as evidenced by its habit of wandering: the bird often appears in places very far from its usual habitats. His ability to fly also demonstrates the fact that pursued by a falcon, he quickly rises to the extreme height and often leaves the chase.

Hoopoe - a bird that appears in a particular part of Europe every year, most often in spring. It does not adapt to captivity, so very few cases of breeding hoops are registered in households.

Migration Features

The hoopoe, the photo of which is in the article, migrates to the northern areas of the range. Migration (most of which occurs at night) occurs on a broad front throughout Europe and throughout the Mediterranean, and probably also across the Sahara. Although ornithologists point out that the population of birds on the “black continent” is inactive from the point of view of migration all year round. Probably the majority of European migrants winter in sub-Saharan Africa or in India, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan.

The duration of migration seasons is significantly delayed. Autumnal dispersal covers the period from mid-July until the end of October or even until the end of November. Hoops begin to fly south of the Sahara in the second half of August, but most of the birds arrive there in September and October.

Return flights start from the beginning of February. Mass movements occur in the period from mid-March to April and end in May.


Hoopoe - a bird that chooses such habitats:

  • Wasteland.
  • Meadows and pastures.
  • Forest steppes.
  • Savannah.
  • Mountain lands.
  • Forest areas.

There must be some vegetation on the ground so that birds can easily obtain food. There should also be "verticals" where they can build their nests, for example, trees, rocks, walls and haystacks.

Changes made by people in the natural habitat of hoopoe, led to the fact that these birds also usually live in:

  • Vineyards.
  • Vegetable gardens and orchards.
  • Olive groves.
  • Parks and home gardens.

Interestingly, the bird hoopoe, whose habitat is mainly plains, is also found in mountainous areas at an altitude of up to two thousand meters, and it rarely rises above it.

What does the hoopoe eat?

The hoopoe (photo of a bird demonstrates its beauty) feeds mainly on insects - flies, grasshoppers, termites, butterflies, ants, although spiders, worms and larvae also make up a significant part of its diet. Beetles of different species are his favorite food. When the bugs are large enough, the bird, first with a beak, smashes them against the ground and then eats them in parts. She swallows little bugs entirely without unnecessary ceremonies.

Hoopoe most often chooses those insects that live in manure, soil, decaying wood. The representative of the feathery with a long curved beak easily pulls them from a soft tree or a pile of earth. Hoopoe - a bird with a good appetite. In the autumn, these birds can become so fat that some gourmets open their hunt for them. By the way, in some countries of Southern Europe in the 19th century, roast hoopoe was considered an exquisite delicacy.


The hoopoe is a monogamous bird, although the pair connection seems to last only one season. These birds are also territorial, with the males often claim ownership in a certain territory. Battles and fights between rival males (and sometimes females) are common and can be fierce. Birds will try to prick rivals with their beaks.

A hoopoe usually arranges a dwelling in a hole, on a tree or in a hollow. The nest has a narrow entrance, can be unlined or collected from various wastes, an unpleasant smell emanates from it, which scares off enemies.

Only the female is responsible for the incubation of the eggs. The clutch size varies by location: birds of the northern hemisphere lay more eggs than in the southern hemisphere, and birds at higher latitudes have larger clutches than birds closer to the equator. In central and northern Europe and Asia, the clutch size is about 12 eggs, whereas between the tropics and subtropics there are usually 4 to 7 eggs in the clutch. Eggs are round and milky-blue when laying, but quickly discolor due to dirt in the nest, each weighing 4-5 g. Replacing the clutch is possible if the first attempt at reproduction was not crowned with success.

The incubation period begins when the female lays the first egg, and lasts from 15 to 18 days. Therefore, chicks hatch asynchronously. During incubation, the males of hoopoes feed the females.

Nestlings hatch with a feather featherscover; during the day, the first real feathers appear, which later grow. The children are fed first by the father, the female later joins the male in the task of searching for food. The young hoopheads fledge for 26-29 days and stay with their parents for another week after they are covered with full-fledged feathers.

In general, the population of hoopoos is not considered endangered. By some estimates, the number of birds in nature varies from 5 to 10 million individuals. Some subspecies decrease in number due to the disturbance of the ecosystem of their habitat and poaching. In Europe, despite the fact that, according to estimates by ornithologists, there are 700,000 breeding pairs, there has recently been a decrease in the population size. Hoopoe is under threat in Germany and vulnerable in some other countries.

Less and less often in the northern regions hoopoe (bird) occurs. The red book of many Russian regions (for example, Lipetsk, Moscow, Tver, Novosibirsk) contains a record of this bird.

Interesting Facts

Scientists once believed that the bad smell from the hoop's nest was caused by food, which it finds in very dubious places — dung heaps, rotting tree trunks. But recently, ornithologists found out that this smell is emitted by the birds themselves for self-defense. When attacking a predator, adult birds and chicks produce a secret with a pungent smell. These secretions, which smell (if I may say so) rotting meat, cover the plumage, the nest. Scientists also believe that the secret deters parasites and acts as an antibacterial agent. Interestingly, during migration, the birds cease to allocate it.

Hoopoe is a bird that, because of the structure of its beak, cannot peck up food from the ground, so it eats in a rather original way: it takes food with its beak, throws it high into the air, catches it with its open beak and swallows it. Like in the circus!

Sometimes, in the hot months, the bird can be found in Iceland. But there she never breeds.

If the hoopoe notice a bird of prey, it is pressed tightly to the ground and spread its wings, becoming invisible from the air.


The representatives of the order Hornbirds and the Khodod family are distinguished by the presence of striped black and white feathering of the wings and tail, a long and rather thin beak, and also a relatively long tuft located in the head area. The color of the neck, head and chest, depending on the subspecies, can vary from a pinkish tinge to a brownish-brown color.

Representatives of this species are distinguished by rather wide and rounded wings, very characteristic colored with contrasting whitish-yellow and black stripes. The tail part is average in length, black, with a wide white band in the middle. The belly area on the body is pinkish-red, with blackish longitudinal stripes on the sides.

It is interesting! In Chechens and Ingushes, in times of paganism, the hoopoe ("tushol-cats") were considered sacred birds, symbolizing the goddess of fertility, spring and childbearing Tusholi.

The crest in the region of the head has an orange-red coloration, with tops of black feathers. Usually, the crest of a bird is complex and has a length in the range of 5-10 cm. However, in the process of landing, the representatives of the rhinoceros order and the family of the Udodovye group dissolve it upwards and with a fan. The beak of an adult bird 4-5 cm long, slightly curved down.

The tongue, unlike so many other species of birds, is greatly reduced. The foot area is lead gray. The limbs of the bird are strong enough, with the presence of short plus and blunt claws.

Lifestyle, behavior

On the surface of the earth, the hoopoe moves quickly and fairly quickly, what resembles ordinary starlings. At the first signs of sudden anxiety, as well as when the birds are completely unable to flee, such a feathered can lie low, clinging to the surface of the earth, spreading its tail and wings, as well as lifting its beak upwards.

At the stage of incubation of their offspring and feeding of chicks, adult birds and babies produce a specific oily liquid secreted by the oil gland and having a sharp, very unpleasant odor. The release of such a liquid, together with the droppings, is a kind of protection of the hoop from ground-sized predators of small size.

It is this characteristic feature of the bird that allowed her to become a very “unscrupulous” creature in the eyes of man. In flight, the hoops are slow, fluttering like butterflies. However, such a representative of the order Hornbirds and the Udodovoe family is quite maneuverable in flight, due to which the feathered predators rarely manage to catch it in the air.

Sexual dimorphism

Males of hoopoe and females of this species in appearance do not have any significant differences from each other. Young birds belonging to the order Hornbirds and the family Udodovye, in general, have a coloration in less saturated colors, are marked by a shorter beak, as well as a shortened tuft.

Types of hoopoe

There are several subspecies of representatives of the order Hornbirds and the family Udodovye (Upupidae):

  • Upupa epops epops, or the common hoopoe, which is a nominative subspecies. It inhabits Eurasia from the Atlantic and in the western part to the Scandinavian Peninsula, in the southern and central regions of Russia, in the Middle East, in Iran and Afghanistan, in the northwestern part of India and in northwestern China, as well as in the Canary Islands and North West Africa
  • subspecies Upupa epops major lives in Egypt, northern Sudan and eastern Chad. It is currently the largest subspecies, has a longer beak, a grayish tint on the upper torso and a narrow dressing band in the tail area,
  • Upupa epops senegalensis, or the Senegalese hoopoe, inhabits the territory of Algeria, the arid belt of Africa from the territory of Senegal to Somalia and Ethiopia. This subspecies is the smallest form with relatively short wings and the presence of a significant amount of white color on the primary fly feathers,
  • subspecies Upupa epops waibeli is a typical inhabitant of Equatorial Africa from Cameroon and northern Zaire and in the west to the territory of Uganda. Subspecies are very often found in eastern northern Kenya. Appearance resembles U. e. senegalensis, but differs in darker tones in color,
  • Upupa epops africana, or African hoopoe, settles in Equatorial and South Africa from the central part of Zaire to the center of Kenya. Representatives of this subspecies have dark-red plumage, without the presence of white stripes on the outer side of the wing. In males, winged wing wings are distinguished by a white base,
  • Upupa epops marginata, or Madagascar hoopoe is a representative of the birds of northern, western and southern Madagascar. In size, such a bird is noticeably larger than the previous subspecies, and is also distinguished by the presence of a paler plumage and very narrow white stripes located on the wings,
  • subspecies Upupa epops saturata inhabits Eurasia from southern and central regions of Russia to the eastern part of the Japanese islands, southern and central China. The sizes of this nominative subspecies are not too large. Representatives of the subspecies differ slightly grayish plumage in the back, as well as the presence of a less pronounced pinkish tinge in the belly,
  • subspecies Upupa epops ceylonensis lives on the territory of Central Asia towards the south of Pakistan and the northern part of India, in Sri Lanka. Representatives of this subspecies are smaller in size, generally have a more red color, and the white color on the tip of the crest is completely absent,
  • subspecies Upupa epops longirostris inhabits the territory of the Indian state of Asom, Indochina and Bangladesh, eastern and southern China, as well as the Malacca Peninsula. The bird is larger in size than the nominative subspecies. Compared to the appearance of U. e. ceylonensis has a paler color and relatively narrow white stripes on the wings.

It is interesting! The oldest extinct family of Messelirrisoridae is considered to be the oldest group of birds, similar to modern hoopoes.

Even caught adult hoops of any subspecies are able to quickly get used to a person and do not fly away from him, but already fully feathered chicks take root at home.


Hoopoe is a bird of the Old World. On the territory of Eurasia, the bird has spread throughout, but in the western and northern parts practically does not nest in the area of ​​the British Isles, Scandinavia, the Benelux countries, as well as the high mountains of the Alps. In the Baltics and Germany hodes are common sporadically. In the European part, representatives of the genus nest to the south of the territory of the Gulf of Finland, Novgorod, Nizhny Novgorod and Yaroslavl regions, as well as the republics of Bashkortostan and Tatarstan.

In the western part of Siberia, birds rise to the level of 56 ° c. sh., reaching Achinsk and Tomsk, and in the eastern part of the range, Lake Baikal, the South-Muya Trans-Baikal Range and the Amur River basin bends around. On the territory of continental Asia hodes are found almost everywhere, but avoid desert areas and solid forest areas. Also representatives of the Udodovy family are found in Taiwan, the Japanese Islands and Sri Lanka. In the south-eastern part they settle on the Malay peninsula. There are cases of infrequent migrations to Sumatra and the island part of Kalimantan. In Africa, the main range is located to the south of the Sahara region, and in Madagascar hodes live in the more arid western part.

As a rule, hoopoes settle on the plain or in hilly areas, where preference is given to open landscapes in the absence of high grass combined with the presence of individual trees or small groves. The population reaches the greatest number in arid and warm regions. Representatives of the family actively inhabit the steppe ravines and meadows, settle near the edge or on the forest edge, live in river valleys and foothills, in shrubby coastal dunes.

Quite often, the Pododes are found on landscapes used by people, including various pastures, vineyards, or fruit plantations.. Sometimes birds lodge in settlements where they feed on waste from landfills. Пернатые предпочитают избегать сырых и низинных участков, а для создания гнездовий используют дуплистые старые деревья, расщелины среди камней, норы в речных обрывах, термитники, а также углубления в каменных строениях. Активен удод исключительно в светлое время суток, а на ночлег отправляется в любые пригодные для таких целей убежища.

Рацион удода

Основа питания удода представлена преимущественно самыми разными мелкими по размерам беспозвоночными животными:

  • insect larvae and pupae,
  • May beetles,
  • dung beetles,
  • mertvoyedami
  • grasshoppers,
  • butterflies
  • steppe fillies,
  • flies
  • ants
  • termites
  • spiders
  • wood lice
  • centipedes,
  • small mollusks.

Sometimes adult hoopoes are capable of catching small frogs, as well as lizards and even snakes. The bird feeds only on the surface of the earth, looking for its prey among low grass or on the soil bare from vegetation. The owner of a sufficiently long beak often picks in manure and garbage heaps, seeks out food in rotten wood, or makes shallow holes in the ground.

It is interesting! Too large beetles get their hoopoes on the ground, break into rather small parts, and then are eaten.

Quite often, representatives of the order Hornbirds and the family Udodovoe accompany the grazing livestock. The tongue at the hoopoe is short, so these birds sometimes are simply unable to swallow prey directly from the ground. To this end, the birds throw the food into the air, and then catch it and swallow it.

Natural enemies

Hoopoe scares the enemy, quickly clinging with wings spread to the surface of the earth and lifting up the beak. In this position, they become similar to something completely incomprehensible and inconceivable, and therefore terrible and absolutely inedible.

It will also be interesting:

There are not too many enemies in nature at the hoopoe - a rare animal will dare to eat a foul-smelling and unattractive prey. At the end of the nineteenth century, in Germany, the meat of an adult hoopoe and chicks was eaten and found “quite tasty”.


Usually hoopoe looking for food on the ground. In meadows, pastures or lawns with a thin and long beak, he gets insects or their larvae from the ground. This bird loves large bears, catches spiders, worms, scorpions and even small lizards.

Sometimes hoopoe catches insects in the air. Caught prey, he kills, and then throws up, catches and swallows. In the winter hodes eats ants and termites. The feed of chicks is about the same as that of adult birds.


A characteristic feature of the hoopoe is the crest on the crown. When this bird is scared or nervous about something, it raises its bangs. The hoopoe also lifts the bang for a moment when it sits on the ground or branch. During the flight of the hoopoe, it is easy to recognize not only by the contrasting plumage, but also by a special undulating flight with slow, intermittent flapping of the wings. At first glance, the hoopoe can be confused with a big butterfly, it seems slow and clumsy, but in fact this bird flies very cleverly and quickly. From the predators, the hoopoe escapes, flying upwards - in this case, the predator cannot attack the hoopoe from above and grab it with its claws. Henshocks fly away from their nesting sites in August or September and travel to Africa and sub-Saharan Africa for the winter, and sometimes to the Mediterranean coast. Birds return to their nesting sites in April, when the air in the northern regions is warm enough.


Hoops are monogamous birds - they create couples for life and return to the same nesting sites. The current male sings a marriage song, hiding among rare vegetation. He holds his beak raised up, bristling feathers around his neck, belligerently raises his tuft and tries to attract the attention of his partner. After mating, the female in a nest without litter, located in the hollow of an old tree, lays from 5 to 8 eggs.

Often, as the nest, the hoopes use holes in the walls, crevices among the stones or a bunch of branches. Sometimes the birds line the hollow with blades of grass or moss, but most often there is no litter in the nest. Eggs hoopoe matte white with a grayish, bluish and ocherous coating. The female incubates them for 15-16 days, the male during this time brings her food. Nestlings hatch with a break of several days. They are already covered with down. At first, the female warms them, and the male brings them food. Later, when the babies will have the first feathers, the parents fly together for food.

At the age of four weeks, the chicks already leave the nest. There is an unpleasant odor next to the nests of hoopoes. This is "chemical protection". Hoops have a special gland that produces a pungent odor that scares off enemies. The female and the chicks can "shoot" at the enemy caustic jet of feces with a strong smell.


  • Young hoopoe has a very effective weapon. When the enemy gets into the hollow and the chicks are in danger, they secrete a substance with an unpleasant odor from the oil gland, which is fired at the attacker. This smell drives away the enemy and saves the lives of the chicks. For this ability, hoopoe is called "stinking cockerels."
  • In one ancient legend it is said that once upon a time the hoopoe had a tuft of gold. People constantly chased the birds for the precious metal. The birds asked for help from King Solomon, who instead of the golden crown gave them a feather ornament.
  • The hoopoe was very much appreciated in ancient Egypt. There is even a hieroglyph depicting the head of the hoopoe with a raised tuft on the crown.
  • In the summer months the hoopoe was seen far to the north, even in Iceland. However, this bird cannot nest in such cold areas.
  • The hoopoe, which the bird of prey found in the open, is saved in a cunning way. It is pressed to the ground, very widely opens its wings and tail feathers, and the beak lifts up. Then only contrasting patterns on the wings are visible from above, thanks to which the hoopoe practically merges with the environment, and the predator does not notice it.


Head: small, light orange with a long, thin, slightly curved down beak. A characteristic feature of the bird is a fan-shaped tuft on the crown of long feathers with black tips. The tuft is imperceptible, it rises only when landing or when the hoop hocks up something angry

Wings: wide and rounded, with clear black and white stripes, which are very clearly visible in flight.

Tail: stepped, with the same black and white stripes as on the wings.

Stomach: orange brown.

Legs: rather short, suitable for running along the ground (with this, the hoopoe constantly twists its head).

Eggs: light olive with a yellowish, grayish or greenish tinge. The female lays 5-8, sometimes even 12 eggs.

- Habitat habitat

Where it lives

In some places, the hoopoe is a migratory bird. It nests almost all over Europe, except for Scandinavia. Sometimes the hoopoe appears in southern England. The bird lives in most parts of Africa, India and South Asia throughout the year.


Despite the reduction in the number of hoopoe in Central Europe, no protective measures are used today to save this species.

Hoopoe. Potatuyka. Birds of Brateevograd. Video (00:00:33)

In Moscow, the breeding of the hoopoe is not established in forest biotopes, but on the filtration fields in Marino, not far from the sandy base in Marino near the Moskva River. It was in 1996. After 10 years, the hoopoe began to appear in the thickets at the end of the Mariinsky Embankment.
Hoops arrange nests under the roof of temporary buildings and in other shelters, and for food they fly to neighboring gardens to Maryino and across the Moscow River to Brateevskaya, where there are also many gardens.
They are also observed during spring flights over the Brateevskaya and Mariinsky flood plains.