Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lapwings and Hoopoes

Quiet again today although I did find another brood of two Lapwing chicks to ring  at Pilling. That's at least 8 pairs bred successfully this year. The ground is very dry at the moment which explains the dried mud on their tiny bills.

Lapwing chicks 

Finally, here are the Hoopoes pictures promised from the recent Menorca holiday.

The Hoopoe Upupa epops is found across Afro-Eurasia and is a bird noted for its distinctive crown of feathers. The Latin name Upupa epops is an onomatopoetic form which imitates the call of the bird, a trisyllabic "oop-oop-oop".


Hoopoes are fairly common in Menorca, although the species is quite shy, with a brief flight view or just the call the best indication one is around. They are not normally as tolerant to being observed as a pair I found near on the coast near the little town of Es Migjorn, Menorca during my recent holiday in early May. I would see one bird most days, either feeding itself or sometimes flying off with large food items, a sign that the bird was probably a male carrying food to a sitting female. Hoopoes nest in holes, normally trees or walls, so I hoped that soon I might find where the bird flew to.


The diet of the Hoopoe is mostly composed of insects, although small reptiles and frogs as well as some plant matter such as seeds and berries are sometimes taken as well. It is a solitary forager which typically feeds on the ground. Common diet items include crickets, locusts, beetles, earwigs, cicadas, ant lions, bugs and ants.

In the second week the same feeding bird seemed to switch to carrying off just small items of food, some of which it gleaned by searching the crevices of palm trees. By now I was fairly sure it was feeding tiny young and the female might also be more active, although as both sexes look the same I couldn’t be sure if I was watching one or two birds, although the crown feathers of the regular bird were well worn. 


Day 12 saw both bird birds feeding close together when I was able to distinguish the male and the female separately. The female had an almost unblemished, unworn crest. When I found the nest hole I could see that the male’s constant toing and froing at the hard concrete nest hole had probably worn his crest feathers, with the less active female able to retain her crown feathering. 

Hoopoe Nest Site


From the car I watched and photographed the birds around the nest site and their by now heavy feeding routine. At times the female stayed with the youngsters while the male passed food through the nest hole. In one of the pictures below the female’s bill can be seen accepting food from the male. At other times she appeared to show aggression towards her partner. 




 Food Pass

Female Hoopoe

Female Hoopoe

What a privilege to be able to see the Hoopoe’s breeding behaviour close to but what a shame I wasn’t there to see the young emerge from the nest. If ever you are in Menorca, Es Migjorn is a typical friendly small town with a number of good bars and cafes. You may bump into Paco who takes wonderful photographs of the Menorcan landscape, much better than mine. Take a look on his blog by clicking on "Paco" above.

 Es Migjorn

 Es Migjorn

To Es Migorn 


Dave said...

Cracking post - lovely to see bahavioural shots such as these, in and out of the nest hole, the angry expression of the female with the lowered crest. The last image of the tree lined avenue is splendid


NatureStop said...

The Lapwing chicks are so cute.I love Hoopoes..really good looking birds.Love the last shot.Thanks for sharing.Have a great day!


El rincón de Ceditas said...

Como de costumbre, excelentes!!!

Barb said...

Fantastic captures - how fascinating to see where it nests! I love the female's pose - she has a great hairdo!

Adam Jones said...

Great Hoopoe shots. One I am yet to see myself.

mick said...

Very interesting post and the Hoopoe behavior and photos you took are fascinating.

Gary said...

Great post!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

eileeninmd said...

Love the cute Lapwing chicks, they are adorable. But the Hoopoe steals the show. Awesome photos of this cool looking bird.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

The hoopoe is amazing -- lives up to its unique name -- I just love the pictures and what a wonderful vacation treat to get to know this bird. Amazing. The baby lapwings are adorable.

kirstallcreatures said...

Great post and fantastic Hoopoe photos, especially the shots of the birds passing on food.

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

Wow, what an interesting bird, the Hoopoe! Wonderful series

Springman said...

A consummate post! Such a gorgeous bird and one I didn't know. Thanks for sharing your brilliant photos!

Russell said...

Wonderful study of a groovy bird. I sighted my first Hoopoe this past spring, fleetingly. I'd love to see more of them. You photos are superb.

Stewart M said...

I think it was seeing pictures of Hoopoe in early bird books that made me keep going birdwatching - although I have still never seen one! (let alone two!)

Splendid pictures.

Stewart M - Australia

NewMexiKen said...

Such an interesting narrative, and beautifully illustrated!

Christian said...

What a crazy nest site! Fantastic behaviour images Phil.

Monica said...

Fantastic shots and a wondrful post!
A very interesting bird,- the Hoopoes!

news said...

Hi Phil. Amazing shots of the Hoopoe,s they must have been exciting to come across & to film.JWB.

Modesto Viegas said...

Great post!!!
Thanks for sharing!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Oh my those Lapwing chicks are so CUTE Phil and then to move on to your amazing coverage of time spent with the Hoopoes, wow, what a thrill all of that had to be and your magnificent images. I thoroughly enjoyed this series. Thank you for mentioning it, for I have missed much in not feeling up to par lately~

Stuart Price said...

Great Hoopoe shots Phil.

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