Eurasian hoopoe

(Upupa epops)
Migratory bird. It breeds in Paggaio and overwinters in the savannah zone of sub-Saharan Africa.
Sophia Siggiridou_Kostas Vidakis, MSc

Distribution of the species

The local breeding population is smaller than the 2% of the national population (60,000–80,000 pairs). The conservation status of the local population, which is not isolated within its wider distribution range, is considered good. In the study area the species is found mainly within the agroforestry ecosystems of the lower altitudes, in pastures and forest clearings. It is also observed in similar habitats near the settlements.

Description of the species (biological and ecological features)

One of the most fancy and distinct birds in the area. Pink-beige, with black and white stripes and strongly rounded wings. Its large cinnamon with black tips crests unfolds in the shape of a fan. Its beak is long, narrow and convex downwards. Suspicious, keeps distance from man. Its flight is unstable, irregular, with ups and downs, usually low above the ground. Aristophanes’ famous “Epops”, his scientific name refers to his three-syllable song “oop oop oop”. Along with the swallows, it is associated with the coming of spring.

Migratory bird. It breeds in Paggaio and overwinters in the savannah zone of sub-Saharan Africa. It uses open rural areas with small forests, shrubs, pastures, arboriculture and large city parks. It builds its nest in a hole or crevice, which can be located in a tree or on a vertical surface (wall, rock), in a building, in dry stone walls and has a narrow entrance. It feeds mainly on insects, less on worms, spiders, snails and rarely on small reptiles and amphibians. It seeks its food alone in bare or low grass flat soils, sinking its beak almost along its entire length. The muscular system of its head allows the beak to be open when submerged, thus facilitating the capture of prey and leaving a small round hole as a trace. It also looks for insects by digging up piles of leaves, overturning stones or peeling off tree bark.

The main threats for the species are the expansion and intensification of agriculture, resulting in reduced food availability and suitable nest sites. Poaching, due to its striking looks, is also a threat for the species.

Conservation status

Least Concern.

Conservation state

Protected under the Bern Convention (Appendix II). Listed as Least Concern in Greece and in Europe, by the Greek Red Data Book and the IUCN correspondingly. Not included in a SPEC category (European species of conservation concern) by BirdLife International.