Hoopoe (Upupa epops) - Wiki
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[Photo] Hoopoe, Upupa epops. Photograph by Dhaval Momaya, India. Date: November, 2005. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Upupa_epops.jpg
The Hoopoe (IPA: [??huːpuː]) Upupa epops is a bird in the same order of often colourful near passerine birds as the kingfishers, bee-eaters, and rollers.
However, in the Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy, the Hoopoe is separated from the Coraciiformes as a separate order, the Upupiformes. It is the only extant member of its family, although what are now considered subspecies, such as the resident African form U. e. africana, were formerly sometimes given specific status.
Hoopoes are widespread in Europe, Asia and North Africa, as well as Sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar. They migrate from all but the southernmost part of their range to the tropics in winter.
Their habitat is open cultivated ground with short grass or bare patches. They spend much time on the ground hunting insects and worms. That diet may have been among the reasons the Hoopoe is included on the Old Testament's list of unclean birds (see Leviticus 11:19 and Deuteronomy 14:18).
The Hoopoe is 25???29cm long, with a 44???48cm wingspan. This black, white and pink bird is quite unmistakable, especially in its erratic flight, which is like that of a giant butterfly. The crest is erectile, but is mostly kept closed. It walks on the ground like a starling.
The song is a trisyllabic "oop-oop-oop", which gives rise to its English and scientific names.
The nest is in a hole in a tree or wall. Like those of its relatives the kingfishers, the nest tends to contain copious amounts of faeces and smell very foul as a protection against predators. Nesting hoopoes are capable of squirting fecal matter at intruders.
The long-extinct Giant Hoopoe, U. antaios, lived on the island of St Helena.
Hoopoes in human culture
The Hoopoe featured in Greek mythology. Once a man, Tereus was transformed into the form of a Hoopoe. The character featured prominently in Aristophanes' Birds.
In Islam, the Hoopoe is associated with King Solomon who spoke with animals, ( in Arabic the Prophet Suleyman ) and he tells him of the Queen of Sheba and her magnificent land. Quran 27:20-28.
In classical Chinese poetry, the Hoopoe is depicted as a celestial messenger often bearing news of the spring. The Hoopoe is generally considered auspicious in China thanks to its unique beauty.
On the other hand, the word "dupe" was originally a French dialect word for a Hoopoe, which was applied to unintelligent people because the bird was considered to look stupid.
A hoopoe figures centrally in The Conference of the Birds, one of the central works of Sufi literature.
A fantastical mechanical Hoopoe with telepathic powers is featured in Salman Rushdie's book Haroun and the Sea of Stories.
Hoopoes and their blood are often-called-for instruments in many medieval Western magical practices, often associated with various kinds of divination and necromancy.
In his Little Black Bird Book, Bill Oddie facetiously claims that hoopoes are only ever seen on vicar's lawns.
Three Hoopoes form part of the ten songbirds named the Tittifers in the BBC children's TV show In the Night Garden (although this is most likely the same one Hoopoe replicated using CGI).
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