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Bird Watching at Kumana National park

The Hoopoe Bird in Sri Lanka

Known as a migrant bird in Sri Lanka, the Hoopoe bird is an exotic looking bird. It has a distinctive black and white striped wings and long pinkish-brown /cinnamon-colored crest which raises when excited. The crest is raised into a shape of a fan when its landing. He has a long blackish, curved down bill. Its flight resembles that of a giant butterfly.

Where to see the Hoopoe Bird in Sri Lanka?

On a visit to Sri Lanka, one can spot this strikingly crested Hoopoe bird at all the dry zone national parks such as Udawalawe, Yala, Kumana, Bundala, Wasgamuwa, Galoya, Lunugamvehera, Minneriya, Kaudulla and Maduruoya. In the north in Jaffna peninsula and Trincomalee. During the migrant season they are very common in the Mannar island. Hoopoe is also the national bird of Israel. They have been considered sacred in Ancient Egypt, thus depicted on the walls of temples and tombs. In Persia, Hoopoes were seen as a symbol of virtue while in Europe they were thought as thieves and harbingers of war in Scandinavia.

Hoopoes build their nests in vertical surfaces with cavities such as trees. They are active during the day time, spending its time mostly on the ground looking for its grub. It loves to bask in the sun spreading its wings. It also takes dust and sand baths. Their nests are built in a hole of a tree or a wall. The female bird only incubates the eggs through the incubation period which lasts for 15 to 18 days. During this time the male feeds the female.

Hoopoes mainly feed on insects, small reptiles and frogs with its long down curved bill. Its name ‘Hoopoe’ is derived from the sound ‘oop, oop’ it makes. An alternative explanation of the scientific names describes that its derived from the French name ‘huppée’ which means crested.

Hoopoe birds are not considered as threatened, however they play a very important role in the ecosystem by eating insects which are pests for the humans.

Incredible facts about the Hoopoe

  • The hoopoe bird has played an important role in the folklore of many cultures throughout human history. It is mentioned in various religious books, Egyptian hieroglyphics, Greek plays, and Chinese texts.
  • In the Jewish tradition, the hoopoe bird led King Solomon to meet the Queen of Sheba. It is currently the national bird of Israel.
  • Hoopoes soak up the rays of the sun by spreading out backwards along the ground.
  • Like a skunk, the hoopoe bird can emit truly disgusting chemicals to ward off threats.



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