The Green Wood-Hoopoe, also known as the Red-billed Wood-Hoopoe, is a bird renowned in these parts for their “crazy cackling” call, often given in a choir by the whole group. They occur widely in South Africa, being absent only from most of the Northern and Western Cape Provinces, and are also widely distributed over much of sub-Saharan Africa with the exception of the equatorial forests. The IUCN lists the Green Wood-Hoopoe as being of least concern, whilst noting that the loss of prime habitat is causing a decline in certain populations. Some introduced starlings compete with the Green Wood-Hoopoe for nests, especially in urban settings where these exotics flourish.
Green Wood-Hoopoes are common in suburban gardens and parks, but their natural habitat preference ranges from open savannas to dense woodlands and riverine forests. Green Wood-Hoopoes mostly forage in the trees and occasionally on the ground or termite mounds, poking behind loose bark and inside crevices for insects and small reptiles or amphibians and, irregularly, snacking on nectar, seeds and fruits.
Moving around in territorial family groups of up to 14 consisting of a dominant pair and several helpers, Green Wood-Hoopoes breed in holes in trees (usually abandoned by other birds and never created by themselves) at any time of year, with the dominant female incubating a clutch of 2 to 5 eggs over a 3 week period. Both she and the chicks are provided food by the rest of the group, who is also very protective of the nest and will fearlessly attack any intruders. The hatchlings leave the nest when they’re about a month old but are cared for with great dedication by the other group members until they’re about four or five months old. Adult Green Wood-Hoopoes measure around 35cm in length and weigh about 80g.