Key facts

Scientific name: Upupa epops

Status: Scarce summer visitor, occasional breeder

Breeding pairs: Occasionally breeds

Conservation status: Green

Length: 26 – 32 cm

Wingspan: 42 – 46 cm

Weight: 47 – 90 g


Adult male hoopoes are sandy coloured on their heads, necks, mantles and underparts. Their rumps and bellies are white. They have rounded wings which are black and barred with white and their tails are black with one white bar.

Hoopoes have conspicuous crests on their heads which is sandy coloured with black and white tips. The crest comprises 28 feathers which are usually depressed but during displays open up into a fan.

Hoopoes have a long black bill that curve downwards and is paler at the base. Their eyes are dark brown and legs and feet are grey.

Females look similar to males but are smaller and their plumage is duller. Juveniles resemble females but have shorter crests and bills.


Hoopoes nest in natural cavities such as holes in trees, walls or buildings. The female hoopoe cleans the cavity and will sometimes line it with feathers or grass.

Hoopoes lay 5-9 pale grey or white eggs which she incubates for 16-18 days. When they hatch chicks are covered with down and the crest appears 14 days later. They are fed by both parents and will leave the nest at around 24 days old.


Hoopoes forage by jabbing its bill into the ground. It eats insects and spiders discarding inedible parts by beating them on the ground.


Where to see them

Hoopoes can be spotted along the south coast during spring migration. They are not usually found far inland although they have turned up as far north as Shetland.



Did you know?

The hoopoe’s name is onomatopoeic, named after its soft “hoop-hoop-hoop” call.

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