- Order: Bucerotiformes
- Family : Upupidae
- Genus : Upupa
- Species : epops
- Linnaeus, 1758
- Size : 32 cm
- Wingspan : 42 to 46 cm
- Weight : 55 to 80 g
- 11 years
The scream is quite typical and is part of the soundscape of many a countryside in spring. It consists of three equal notes repeated rapidly and can be translated as “woupwoupwoup”. The phrase is repeated at intervals of a few seconds for a time that can last a minute or more.
As much as the song can be described as pleasant, some of its calls are unpleasant to the human ear. The most classic call, which is the alarm call when entering the territory, is a rough “waaahhrrr” that evokes a distant cry of an Ash Heron or a crow. Otherwise, we also note whistled calls like turdidae, a dry rattle of concern and various other calls, in particular of the couple in its intimacy.
IUCN CONSERVATION STATUS
A hoopoe can be recognized at first glance. The general appearance, the reddish color of the plumage, the black and white wings and tail, the large erect hoopoe on the head and the long curved bill make it a remarkable bird. The three species of hoopoes are very similar and their differences are subtle.
The Hoopoe can be distinguished by its black hand with white stripes (its southern African counterpart is completely black) and the white sub-terminal zone of its hoopoe feathers.
Otherwise, it is only necessary to look at a photo to get an idea of the bird. This does not require a long description. On the bird posed, one distinguishes especially the russet crest often bristled, the head, the neck and the mantle color warm sand, the visible part of the wing black barred with white and the long curved gray bill. When the bird is in flight, it is especially the broad and rounded wings, black and barred with white which attract the attention as well as their particular beats.
There is no clear sexual dimorphism. The female is simply a little smaller and paler. The juvenile resembles the female but is duller, with a shorter crest and bill.
The hoopoe is a species that has three requirements to be present in the breeding season, on the one hand an open to semi-open environment, easily accessible soil, bare or lightly grassed, for the search of food and cavities, arboreal or rocky, for nesting. It appreciates spaces with large mammals such as meadows grazed by cattle, especially horses, or the savannah and its large herbivores. More widely, it can frequent all sectors of sufficiently large pasture meadows, sandy moors, steppe, vineyards, orchards or open ground, for example olive groves whose trees are rich in cavities, etc. The bocage as it used to exist in France was a form of ideal.
For nesting, an old tree with cavities does the trick. It can be an isolated tree or a tree included in a structuring element of the landscape (hedge, grove, park, old orchard, riparian, planted trees of roadside or waterway,…). A natural or artificial cliff, an embankment or a steep river bank can also be chosen. But often, it is an old building or a ruin, an old sheepfold for example, which is chosen, whether it is isolated in the countryside or located in or around a village or a hamlet. A simple pile of large stones may be suitable on occasion, as it is for Athena’s Owl. The two species frequently live together.
Threats – protection
Globally, the Hoopoe is not threatened. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that its range has been restricted, particularly in Western Europe, where the population has been declining since the 19th century. And this decline seems to continue in spite of climate changes which in principle should favor this thermophilic bird. However, this is not really the case. The major reason is probably the generalized depletion of the entomofauna of agricultural ecosystems in the broad sense, on which the bird depends entirely for its survival. The depletion of large insects, which also affects other birds such as shrikes, is a direct consequence of the massive and widespread use of pesticides, not only in agriculture, but also by individuals, with no environment really escaping. Moreover, the traditional habitat of the hoopoe, the village with its old houses, its bocage, its orchards and peripheral pastures, its small gardens without inputs, tends to regress because of lack of maintenance. The habitat itself is renovated, depriving the hoopoe of nesting sites. The installation of nesting boxes can compensate for this lack, but it is still necessary to think about it.
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