Bird of the Week – African hoopoe

Bruce Munro


THE African hoopoe is distrbuted throughout Southern Africa.

A common to sparse resident, it is somewhat nomadic with some of its population possibly seasonal migrants.

Hoopoes prefer the savanna, open woodland, gardens, parks, thornveld and riverine woodland.

The bird’s name comes from its voice, which is a mellow ‘hoop-hoop’ or ‘hoop-hoop-hoop’. Usually solitary or found in pairs, it is sometimes also found in small groups when not breeding.


Hoopoes forage by walking on the ground with short, quick steps and nodding the head. Their flight is heavy on broad, floppy wings and is somewhat butterfly-like.

They usually perch in a tree when calling, often raising their crest after alighting.

Food preferences are insects, cutworms, earthworms, small snakes and frogs. They often hawk termites in flight.

Breeding season is from July to December. The nest is a natural hole in the ground, a termite mound, stone wall, hollow in a tree or a burrow in a bank.

Hoopoes do not excavate their own holes, and the nest remains unlined, becoming foul smelling after the young hatch. Two to six pale blue or olive eggs are laid. Incubation is 17 days and nestlings remain for 26 to 27 days.

The Zulu name is umZolozolo and in Afrikaans, Hoephoep.


South Coast Sun

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