African Hoopoe

The Hoopoe is widely distributed throughout South Africa

South Africa BirdlifeThe African Hoopoe {Upupa Africana}

The African Hoopoe is widely distributed throughout South Africa. Not a particularly sociable bird, the Hoopoe is generally found either singly or in pairs.

There is some debate about whether the African Hoopoe and the Eurasian Hoopoe are 2 species or simply subspecies of Upupa epops. In the field they can be distinguished by their colouring (africana is a richer chestnut) and the lack of the white sub-terminal band on the primaries in the African Hoopoe.

The Hoopoe is instantly recognisable by its distinctive 'crown' or 'crest' of feathers, its rich chestnut colouring contrasted by the black and white stripes of its wings and tail. The crest is briefly raised when the bird is unsettled or startled. The Hoopoe's bill is long, dark and narrow and slightly down- or de-curved. The lower abdomen, belly and under-tail coverts are white, the eyes are black and the legs and feet are dark brown.

Quick Facts


Length: 25 to 29 cm.
Wingspan: 44 to 48 cm.
Weight: 65 to 68 gms when fully grown.


African Hoopoes favour open and bushy areas, thornveld and riverine woodlands in dry areas.


They are widely distributed throughout South Africa and can be observed in many nature reserves, parks and gardens.


Hoopoes dart around at ground level collecting insects, small replites like lizards which they find in the ground and in animal faecal matter. They disrupt and turn over fallen leaves and plant matter and probe the ground for insects and food and then use their sharp bills for locating their prey. They will also consume small amounts of seeds and occasionally berries, but not in large amounts, preferring insects and beetles etc.


The African Hoopoe isn't a sociable bird and is generally found either singly or in pairs (occasionally small loose flocks are seen during the migration season). They are monogamous birds however, this only lasts for a single breeding season.


The Hoopoe is a cavity nester (in tree holes, either natural or made by barbets or woodpeckers) or will happily use a hollow in a pile of boulders or cavities in buildings, always chosen and protected by the male. They lay from four to seven eggs over a period of a few days (sometimes taking a days break in-between). Once she has finished laying all her eggs, the female alone will incubate the eggs for 14 - 16 days. Once hatched, the male does the hunting for the chicks for the first week of their lives and then the female gets involved in the feeding of her young.


Incubation lasts for 14 to 16 days.

Life Expectancy

Information required.




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