Animals

Did You Know? 19 Incredible African Hoopoe Facts!

Discover fun African hoopoe facts about its breeding, distribution, habitat, diet, behavior, and more!
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The African hoopoe (Upupa africana) is a spectacular member of the family Upupidae that also comprises the Madagascar hoopoe and the Eurasian hoopoe (Upupa epops). All members of the Upupidae family have characteristic crown feathers that distinguish them from other bird species. A male African hoopoe possesses cinnamon-colored upperparts, lacks the white-colored stripe on the crest, and has black-colored primaries. There are characteristic black and white stripes present on the wings and tail of this bird and an African hoopoe’s wings are curved as well as broad. This bird also has a black tail that is square-shaped and possesses a broad white band. The head of this species possesses a stunning crest that has chestnut-colored long feathers along with black tips. The bill of this bird is thin, long, and black-colored and the beak is also curved downwards. It has small brown-colored eyes with gray-colored short feet and legs. Similar to many other bird species, a female hoopoe bird is duller than a male, with chicks looking similar to the female hoopoe only with a shorter crest.

The hoopoe bird exists across Africa, Europe, Asia, and Madagascar. It has been observed to inhabit open, bushy regions, thornveld, and riverine woodlands in the wild, as well as parks and suburban gardens in urban areas. Its diet comprises insects, earthworms, frogs, small snakes, lizards, seeds, berries, and insect pupae or larvae. Keep reading to get to know fun facts about the nest, habitat, breeding habits, flight patterns, and more about this hoopoe bird!

If you enjoyed reading our African hoopoe interesting facts, you must check out our pelican surprising facts and common kingfisher fun facts!

African Hoopoe

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Insects, earthworms, frogs, small snakes, lizards, seeds, berries, and insect pupae or larvae

What do they eat?

Omnivores

Average litter size?

4-7 eggs

How much do they weigh?

1.3-2.3 oz (38-67 g)

How long are they?

9.8-11.4 in (25–29 cm)

How tall are they?

N/A

What do they look like?

Cinnamon, black, and white

Skin Type

Feathers

What are their main threats?

Predators

What is their conservation status?

Not Evaluated

Where you'll find them

Open, bushy regions, thornveld, and riverine woodlands in dry areas, parks, and suburban gardens

Locations

Africa

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Aves

Scientific Name

Upupa africana

Family

Upupidae

Genus

Upupa

African Hoopoe Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an African hoopoe?

The African hoopoe is one of the three species of the hoopoe bird, the other two being the Eurasian hoopoe and the Madagascar hoopoe. There are nine subspecies of the Eurasian hoopoe and the African hoopoe can be differentiated from the Eurasian hoopoe (Upupa epops) with the help of their plumage. The colors of males of these two species differ, but females look similar. Apart from with other species of hoopoes, African hoopoes cannot be confused with any other European bird!

What class of animal does an African hoopoe belong to?

African hoopoes belong to the class of Aves, and the family Upupidae, which comprises the colorful Madagascar hoopoe and the Eurasian hoopoe too. It belongs to the genus Upupa.

How many African hoopoes are there in the world?

The population of African hoopoes has not been evaluated yet. However, we do know that these birds are widespread throughout Africa, with the exception of the western and central lowland forests. The hoopoe's population is stable in Europe, Asia, Madagascar, and South Africa.

Where does an African hoopoe live?

African hoopoes can be seen in Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Angola, Zambia, Ta, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, the southern half of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is not endemic to any region but it is quite common in South Africa.

What is an African hoopoe's habitat?

The habitat of these hoopoes in the wild comprises bushy, open areas and thornveld regions, as well as riverine woodlands. In urban areas, these birds can be seen in suburban gardens and parks. These birds have been observed to build their nest in cavities like holes in tree trunks, abandoned termite nests, buildings, holes in the ground, boulder piles, nest boxes, and near houses. A single nest can be reused for several years by these hoopoes. They line the nest with dried manure, debris, and grass, and these birds are known for their smelly nests as they do not clean the droppings in the nest. African hoopoes are not known to migrate. They reside in the same region all year round. On the other hand, Eurasian hoopoes, that range through Asia and Europe's temperate zones, migrate to South Africa or southern Africa in the winter season.

Who do African hoopoes live with?

African hoopoes are solitary by nature. They aren't gregarious birds and can be seen alone or together with their mate. This is a monogamous bird that mates with a single mate for life.

How long does an African hoopoe live?

African hoopoes have a 10-year-long life in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

African hoopoes are solitary birds that live with their mate in cavities. The nests of these birds are typically constructed in holes in tree trunks, abandoned termite nests, buildings, holes in the ground, boulder piles, nest boxes, and near houses. The nest location is decided by the male hoopoe. A single nest can be reused for several years by these hoopoes and the nest is lined with dry manure, grass, or debris. During the breeding season, a territory is maintained by African hoopoes. These birds mate for life with a single partner. They only look for another mate if their existing one passes away.

The female lays four to seven eggs each breeding season. These eggs are green or blue in shade and become brown quickly. These eggs undergo an incubation period that lasts for 14-20 days. They are incubated by the female hoopoe. Chicks of African hoopoes are born blind and naked. Both male and female hoopoes feed their chicks and these chicks fledge at the age of 26-32 days.

What is their conservation status?

The African hoopoe bird is classified by the IUCN under the Least Concern category. This species is widespread and has an abundant population in South Africa.

African Hoopoe Fun Facts

What do African hoopoes look like?

This bird ranges between 9.8-11.4 in (25–29 cm) in length and has a wingspan of 17.3-18.8 in (44-48 cm). A male African hoopoe possesses cinnamon-colored upperparts, lacks the white-colored stripe on the crest, and has black-colored primaries. There are characteristic black and white stripes present on the wings and tail of this bird and the African hoopoe’s wings are curved as well as broad. It also has a black tail that is square-shaped and possesses a broad white band. The head of this bird possesses a stunning crest that has chestnut-colored long feathers along with black tips. The bill of this bird is thin, long, and black-colored. The beak is also curved downwards. This bird has small brown-colored eyes with gray-colored short feet and legs. Similar to many other bird species, a female hoopoe bird is duller than a male, with chicks looking similar to the female hoopoe only with a shorter crest. This bird also emits a foul-smelling secretion with its oil gland. Apart from with other species of hoopoes, African hoopoes cannot be confused with any other European bird!

The African hoopoe has a characteristic crest that has chestnut-colored long feathers!

How cute are they?

African hoopoes are very cute. They have an exceptional crest that has a mesmerizing coloration. The crest of these birds lies backward when they are relaxing, and opens up in a circular shape when these birds are excited or alarmed!

How do they communicate?

African hoopoes are quite vocal and have an extraordinary call. The sound of the call goes like ‘hooo-pooo’. This sound is repeated three to five times whenever these birds call. African hoopoes are quite silent when it isn't their breeding season. However, male hoopoes have been observed to sing their songs in spring as well as in summer.

How big is an African hoopoe?

African hoopoes range between 9.8-11.4 in (25–29 cm) in length and have a wingspan of 17.3-18.8 in (44-48 cm). These stunning African hoopoes are approximately the same size as the graceful starlings.

How fast can an African hoopoe fly?

When in flight, these hoopoes fly low and have an irregular pattern of flight. These birds can soar quite high if they are being chased by a raptor though. The speed of the African hoopoe has not been evaluated yet. However, we do know that the common hoopoe bird has a top speed of 24.9 mph (40 kph).

How much does an African hoopoe weigh?

The African hoopoe's weight ranges between 1.3-2.3 oz (38-67 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no special names for males and females of this species of hoopoes.

What would you call a baby African hoopoe?

African hoopoe babies are known as chicks.

What do they eat?

The African hoopoe's diet comprises insects, small snakes, seeds, berries, earthworms, frogs, lizards, and insect larvae or pupae. It looks for food through leaves on the ground with the help of its thin and strong beak. Any insect that it catches is first hit on the ground so that its wings and legs fall off. Then the insect is tossed up in the air and caught with the beak. This bird primarily consumes earthworms and insects that it finds on the ground.

This bird is mainly preyed upon by raptors like eagles and hawks. They defend themselves from these birds by lying flat on the ground, with their wings and tail spread out, and their beak pointing to the sky.

Are they dangerous?

These animals aren't dangerous. However, they are known to emit a foul-smelling secretion with their oil glands. These animals also possess a powerful bill that is used in defense against predators.

Would they make a good pet?

No, the African hoopoe will not make a great pet for humans to keep at home.

Did you know...

Spain is the European country that has the largest European population of hoopoes! They are certainly not a rare bird here.

Hoopoes symbolize wisdom, filial piety, and kingship!

The national bird of Israel is the hoopoe bird. It was appointed the national bird on the 60th birthday of Israel!

Eurasian hoopoes have been observed to migrate from Europe toward northern Africa but many may migrate towards the south of Africa. It is assumed that these birds may have migrated longer and may have wanted to dwell in southern Africa that led to a new subspecies, the African hoopoe (Upupa africana)!

Is the African hoopoe a woodpecker?

No, hoopoes and woodpeckers are different birds and belong to distinct orders. Woodpeckers belong to the Piciformes order, whereas hoopoes belong to the Bucerotiformes order.

How many eggs do African hoopoes lay?

These birds lay four to seven eggs that undergo an incubation period of 14-20 days.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our common kingfisher fun facts and great-tailed grackle surprising facts pages!

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable bird coloring pages!

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