Kenya Birds

African Hoopoe


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African Hoopoe

Photograph(s) Copyright ŠP&H HARRIS

Upupa africana

Other Names

               

World: Africa - widely distributed S of 17°N except for the western and central equatorial lowland forest.

Kenya: Found in open and bushy habitats below 2000m, mostly S of 2°N.

There is a lot of debate about the status of the Hoopoe. Some authorities place all members of the family Upupidae into a single species, Upupa epops, with various subspecies recognised, others separate the African Hoopoe into a separate species, Upupa africana. We have gone with Sibley and Monroe and have chosen to treat the African Hoope as a separate species.

The African Hoopoe is distinguished from the Eurasian Hoopoe by the colouring of the male (the females are similar). The male African Hoopoe is a richer cinnamon colour above, lacks the subterminal white band on the crest and has all black primaries. Habits and vocalisations are the same in both species.

The African Hoopoe isn't a sociable bird and is generally found either singly or in pairs (occasionally small loose flocks are seen during the migration season). Its diet is primarily insect pupae or larvae which are taken by probing the ground with its long bill. It will also take larger prey such as locusts or lizards. Vegetable matter (seeds or berries) may be eaten but in very small quantities. It is a cavity nester which will happily use a hollow in a pile of boulders or cavities in buildings.

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