Wild life and nature of Samos, Ikaria & Fournoi

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Birds

Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops)

Description

The Eurasian Hoopoe is approximately 27 cm long, with a wingspan of around 46 cm. It is an unmistakeable bird, with a long, black, slightly down curved bill, vivid pink body, large crest tipped with black, and striated black-and-white wings. It is equally unmistakeable in flight, with a black tail that has a white stripe through it, and distinctive black and white striations on the wings. Its flight pattern is similar to that of a moth or a butterfly. Thought to be a defensive posture, Hoopoes sunbathe spreading out their wings and tail low against the ground, and their head tilted up, and usually fold their wings halfway in dust and sand baths.

Habitat

The Eurasian Hoopoe prefers areas of open grassland with some tree cover, such as open woods, olive groves, plantations, parks or rural gardens. This bird spends most of its time on the ground, where its plumage offers it fairly effective camouflage.

Diet

Since the Eurasian Hoopoe spends most of its time on the ground, its main prey items are insects, grubs, worms and lizards. It can use its long bill to probe into soft earth to extract its food. Their preferred food is butterfly and moth larvae and pupae, especially that of the Pine Processionary Moth (Thaumetopoea pitycampa).

Protection Status

This species is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

Interesting Facts

The Eurasian Hoopoe was considered sacred in Ancient Egypt, where the Hoopoe was used in iconography as a symbolic code to indicate the child was the heir and successor of his father. Achieved similar standing in Minoan Crete.

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