African Hoopoe

Upupa africana

Not many South African people will be unfamiliar with the characteristically beautiful voice of the African Hoopoe, which is found in virtually every corner of our country and over most of Africa south of the equator, and is a familiar garden bird in our towns and cities. Many authorities consider the African Hoopoe to only be a subspecies of the Common Hoopoe (Upupa epops africana), with the IUCN showing the species as being distributed widely over sub-Saharan Africa, the North African Coast, Europe, Arabia and Asia and listing it as being of least concern with a population (though thought to be decreasing) of up to 10-million, without specifying how many might remain in their African or southern African range.

The African Hoopoe may be encountered singly, in pairs or in small family groups. They frequent a variety of natural and man-made habitats, though they reach their highest densities in thorny savannas and woodland. Here they forage on the open ground, probing with their long beaks for worms, insects and their larvae hidden in the soil or among leaf litter and dung, occasionally also eating small reptiles, frogs, seeds and berries.

African Hoopoes form monogamous pairs in the breeding season, which spans spring and summer. They nest in cavities in trees, rock faces or buildings, and clutches may contain up to 7 eggs. The female is solely responsible for incubating the eggs over a 2 week period, though the male is very actively involved in feeding both the female and chicks at the nest. The chicks leave the nest at about a month of age, with some pairs raising as many as three broods in a season!

Adults grow to a length of around 27cm with a wingspan of approximately 45cm and a weight of about 60g.


43 thoughts on “African Hoopoe

  1. lizamroux

    Ek het eers nou die dag besef presies hoe wyd verspreid en algemeen hulle regtig is! Twee jaar terug in Bloemfontein het een in ons dak nes gemaak en vir die eerste keer het ek ook gereeld die hoep-hoep geluid gehoor!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Hoopoes are very interesting indeed! The African Hoopoe isn’t a migrating bird and it would be very interesting to look at the reasons why the European Hoopoe migrates over such great distances in comparison!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. naturebackin

    They are absolutely gorgeous and a favourite with many, I am sure. Thanks for the array of pics. Btw, some years back we first heard and then saw a hoepoe representing the European version (which is almost the same) in the centre of Athens at an ancient temple – what a surprise!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ms. Liz

    What a beautiful and unusual-looking bird, well to this NZer it seems very unusal anyway! The call it makes is also very unusual, I’ve never heard anything quite like that!

    Liked by 1 person


Please don't leave without sharing your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.